Halifax council approves new convention centre business plan

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Halifax regional council has endorsed an updated business plan for the new convention centre, which includes a deficit of $11.1 million.

The municipality and the province have an agreement to split any losses evenly.

The municipality can take money from its convention centre reserve fund, which includes just over $2 million in property taxes from the facility for 2020-21.

Officials with Events East, which operates the Halifax Convention Centre along with the Scotiabank Centre and Ticket Atlantic, presented council with its revised business case Tuesday.

The presentation of the plan had been delayed since the end of March due to the pandemic.

Focus on safety

The plan is "focused on the safe resumption of event activity and supporting the community and economy through recovery from the pandemic and its impacts," according to a Halifax staff report.

The report put forward five focus areas:

  • Returning to safe operations.

  • Business retention.

  • Industry and community alignment.

  • Safe return to work.

  • Responsible management.

Events East president Carrie Cussons said the revised business plan for the convention centre takes the impact of the pandemic into consideration.

"While the events may be smaller, there will be events that will be hosted both on the national and international level," she said. "They will be looking for destinations that are perceived to be safe, and I believe Halifax has a unique position."

300 staff laid off

All events planned between March and September of this year were cancelled or postponed. The Ticket Atlantic box office remains closed.

The business plan assumes "the current gathering limits and border restrictions will remain in place until the end of the fiscal year."

Cussons said of the 400 staff members employed at the convention centre and the Scotiabank Centre, 300 have been laid off.

Those who remain are looking after the buildings and rebooking events for future dates.

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