Parksville facility has strayed

The Parksville Community and Conference Centre has strayed from its originating purpose.

The degree to which the Parksville Community and Conference Centre has strayed from its originating purpose is the degree to which it is in financial difficulties today.

When Coun. Anne Duggan and I moved the motion to transfer the land and building to the society in March, 2000, it was only called the Parksville Community Centre Society. There was no mention of “and Conference Centre” and that was not because of an oversight.

Council at the outset considered and indeed received some pressure to create a convention centre but declined to do so.

First, convention facilities that size had just been built by private operators in the city. I would ask the question today: even if you moved PCCC staff to a commission basis so that revenues would theoretically always exceed staff costs, why would the PCCC want to compete with and take business from the private operators?

Is it fair for the PCCC to receive a massive subsidy and then compete against private operators in the convention business who don’t get the luxury of government money, who are instead among the largest taxpayers to the city?

More importantly, there were at the time and I suspect today, no examples of conference centres unattached to hotel facilities anywhere making money; there were certainly none making money where the principle funding party was government.

The two circumstances that came together that resulted in the creation of the current building were a) the absolute requirement to replace a dilapidated community hall in the park and b) the opportunity to renovate the former school as part of the civic project and establish a safe, functional and comfortable community space at very little cost rather than build one from scratch.

Were the facility and its mandate to revert to the erstwhile idea of a truly community gathering place, then users could pick up most fixed costs (heat and insurance) as well as the cleaning costs, relieving the pressure both to increase their rates and to continue the current massive subsidy from taxpayers.

Jon WaltersCalgary