More event space needed in Metro Vancouver, event organizer says

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Event organizers face space crunch
If you're looking to organize an event in Metro Vancouver, say a wedding or a party, you know it's no easy task. As the competition for space continues to heat up across the region, event planners say they're being squeezed out. Cassidy Mosconi has the story. – Dec 3, 2023

The organizer behind a popular B.C. spirits festival said the lack of event space in Metro Vancouver is being felt by organizations and corporate groups.

The popular Croatian Cultural Centre cancelling all bookings for the foreseeable future, due to restructuring, is just the latest blow to the region for event space.

“They got back within a couple of hours and told me, ‘Yeah, sorry. There are no events. We’re not taking any bookings.’ And that’s it,” Alex Hamer said, with BC Distilled.

BC Distilled showcases more than 40 local distilleries to more than 500 attendees, every year.

Hamer is unsure where next year’s event will be.

“It’s a community space and losing it is going to have a really big impact for a lot of important groups in Vancouver for sure,” Hamer said.

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BC Distilled is not the only operator feeling squeezed for space.

“What we’ve seen over the last few years is that meeting space continues to dwindle,” said Chris Peters, with Tourism Burnaby.

“The last new major space was near Yaletown in 2017. The population of Metro Vancouver has grown by nearly 200,000 people (since then).”

Just last month, Vancouver city council passed a bylaw essentially doubling the number of events that can be held in non-traditional spaces. It’s hoped it’ll ease the supply and demand squeeze.

“Now you’re allowed to hold up to six special events per month in a non-traditional space like an industrial area. Could be a warehouse, for example, could be a retail store, so when it’s closed after hours you could hold a small music concert there,” said Sarah Kirby-Yung, a Vancouver city councillor.

Hamer said he still thinks something new is needed to fill the void.

“We book as soon as we can, usually a year out,” he said. “It is uniquely difficult.”

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