City councillors vote to approve plan to ‘transition’ Expo Centre to the City of Edmonton

Councillors vote for EEDC to take over Expo Centre
WATCH ABOVE: On Tuesday, city councillors voted to approve a plan to transition the Expo Centre to the City of Edmonton in a move to consolidate the Expo Centre and the Shaw Conference Centre.

Just days after a private report recommended city council let the Edmonton Economic Development Corporation (EEDC) take control of the Expo Centre at Northlands, city councillors voted to approve a plan to make that happen.

In a release, the City of Edmonton said the plan to “transition” the Expo Centre to the city will “facilitate the consolidation of the Expo Centre and Shaw Conference Centre.”

The city said it expects the transition to occur on Jan. 1 and negotiations to finalize agreements will take place in the meantime.

READ MORE: EEDC to run both Shaw and Expo Centres: report

One of the challenges related to the Expo Centre is the debt related to building the facility. The building has a $47-million loan attached to it.

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Northlands borrowed money to make major renovations to the Expo Centre in 2009. The centre loses $3 million per year and the loan payments are $4 million per year.

EEDC CEO Brad Ferguson released a statement following news of council’s vote on Tuesday.

“We are grateful for their vote of confidence in our organization,” the statement reads in part.

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“Consolidating Edmonton’s conference and convention centres under EEDC leadership and management will provide additional opportunities for improved conference, convention, and major event attraction.”

READ MORE: City council contemplates changing bylaw to extend Northlands’ debt payments

Watch below: On Jan. 24, 2017, Vinesh Pratap filed this report about the City of Edmonton looking at how it can to help Northlands deal with a multi-million dollar loan.

Edmonton considers changing bylaw to extend Northlands’ debt payments
Edmonton considers changing bylaw to extend Northlands’ debt payments

Earlier this week, Mayor Don Iveson suggested if council votes to approve the Expo Centre-takeover, the benefits of having trade shows and conventions shared by both venues would still take some time to become evident.

“It’ll be years before we see the fruits of all this work,” Iveson said on Friday. “It’s a strategic change. There’ll be some short-term benefits of bringing things together with operating efficiencies but the longer-term benefits on sales, that will take time.”

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READ MORE: Partnership with Edmonton convention and tourism properties closer, but not there yet

“Over the last nine months Northlands and EEDC have both worked very collaboratively together to try to rectify some of the inconsistencies that have happened over many years,” Ferguson said on Friday. “Making sure the right bookings get in the right venue and if we work toward a common calendar, I think everybody wins.

“I think the first thing that happens is that both teams come under a single leadership/management model. You’ll see a sharing of a calendar, so the right type of events happen in the right location, and the right venue. You’ll see some common pricing structures probably happen in the market place rather than undercutting each other and certainly and most importantly, is a unified marketing effort.”

-With files from 630 CHED’s Scott Johnston, Slav Kornik and Caley Ramsay