Editorial: Multiplex issue nearing a vote

On Saturday (March 11), citizens will mark their ballots in a referendum on an $80-million multiplex.

By the end of the week, we’ll know if it’s going to be game on at a sports and events centre in Nanaimo. On Saturday (March 11), citizens will mark their ballots in a referendum on an $80-million multiplex.

If it seems like we’ve gotten to this point in a hurry, we have – the process, depending on one’s point of view, could be described as having been rushed or expedited.

We’re not satisfied with the path the city took in taking the multiplex from a priority project last summer to a referendum question this week. We know now that the Western Hockey League’s timelines have had an impact; in retrospect, we’re skeptical that the Howard Johnson site – which would have involved private property acquisition – was ever honestly considered. A multiplex was rejected by those entrusted with visioning on the south downtown waterfront. The funding scheme masks certain service cuts; for that matter, we know these mega-projects can come in over budget and we fear it would happen here.

We could question the entire premise of this project. Now that BBB Architects have been tabbed to come up with the blueprints, what should we make of that firm’s feasibility findings that a multiplex can be successful here?

The architects aren’t wrong – a multiplex could work here. If we have a little bit of early luck with a winning team and high-end players, fans will come. There’s no reason why people in our community won’t attend games, concerts and events as often here as in other cities our size, other cities that have these sorts of facilities that citizens deserve and value.

A Nanaimo events centre would play a role in downtown revitalization, stir up economic activity in the area and bring pride, renown and other intangibles to the city. Let’s keep in mind, too, that we likely won’t get another chance to have a multiplex for a long while.

We should be excited about a facility that would bring a lot of fun for a lot of people. We should temper any enthusiasm with serious concerns about costs and due process.

Which will win out? Nanaimo is about to decide.

Nanaimo News Bulletin