Officials with the City of Charlottetown recently got a first-hand look at what it takes to build a new multi-purpose entertainment and cultural complex.
Staff and members of council were given a tour of Moncton’s new Avenir Centre by Ontario’s Sierra Planning and Management (which specializes in finding the money to build these large-scale projects), the City of Moncton, which owns the facility, and the third-party management company that operates it.
“The trip was valuable for the group to lay their eyes on a new high-profile building that has a lot of bells and whistles, that is in the downtown core and offers strong economic prosperity on a number of platforms,’’ said Wayne Long, the city’s events development officer and lead staff member on the multi-purpose facility project.
Long said the Charlottetown group, which included members of the city’s strategic priorities and intergovernmental co-operation committee, as well as Frank Quinn, manager of parks and recreation, heard from those involved with the Avenir Centre project, the municipality and from the company that manages the facility. They talked about the business plan that took the project from start to finish and the need to have multiple partners involved.
“The trip was valuable for the group to lay their eyes on a new high-profile building that has a lot of bells and whistles, that is in the downtown core and offers strong economic prosperity on a number of platforms.’’
- Wayne Long
In 2017, a task force report recommended Charlottetown construct a 5,000-seat multi-use facility. Sierra says in today’s market, it costs about $12,000 per seat to build a structure like that, so the price tag for this concept would be $60 million. That’s just the building itself.
Avenir Centre’s price tag is said to have been $119 million, but Long said people have to consider the project was much bigger in scope.
“They had to tear down a former mall that was there, they had to reclaim that property and they had to build the (actual) building. And there were a number of additional things they had to do on that particular space.’’
Coun. Terry Bernard was impressed to hear the Avenir Centre is a profitable operation and is booked with events 250 days of the year. In addition, the company which manages the facility owns a number of other buildings and when it comes to booking events, such as the recent Def Leppard concert, it books them at a number of venues at once rather than the venue itself going out and chasing shows.
“That facility is busy with all kinds of events, like concerts and things like boat shows, and it’s making money,’’ Bernard said. “It’s creating a fantastic economic spinoff for the downtown.’’
Coun. Alanna Jankov, who chairs the committee, was impressed with the facility’s environmentally friendly features. She also said the tour was all part of an ongoing process for the city.
“While it was wonderful to have the opportunity to tour the facility, it wouldn’t be appropriate for us to speculate on what the consultant (Sierra) determined from that visit or what may be included in the report,’’ Jankov said.
Sierra will produce a report that will go to Jankov’s committee and be presented to council sometime this spring.
Charlottetown hired Sierra and is paying the firm $105,000 to explore funding options.
City council also recently passed a resolution that will see it apply to the federal Investment in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP) for funding.