District of Tumbler Ridge Partners for Conference Centre

For anyone that has been following the series of documents generated at the regular meetings of Council you will have noticed that on March 20th, two readings were given to Bylaw 519, 2007: A Bylaw to Establish a Conference Centre Service. At first read this may confuse some people. Is the District starting a conference centre business? Not really. This release is intended to help clarify the purpose of the bylaw in order to shed some light on why it is being used.

Let?s begin with myths of government incentives for business. When it comes to profit-generating operations, things like tax breaks, municipal grants and other forms of assistance are strictly prohibited by provincial legislation. They may exist in the movies or in other Canadian jurisdictions, but not BC. The only exceptions to this are some legislative mechanisms that allow communities to provide certain types of assistance to businesses if those businesses are able to provide a tangible municipal service to the community at large. Assistance granted by municipalities is defined and governed under Sections 8 and 21-25 of the Community Charter, one of two key pieces of legislation that govern municipal government.

In short, municipalities have the ability to provide certain types of assistance to a business if the purpose and subsequent result of this assistance benefits the community. For this to take place, however, municipalities must enter into a partnering agreement sanctioned by bylaw for the provision of this service.

The partnering agreement takes the form of a contract, defining the roles and responsibilities of each party involved in the agreement. It also prescribes the protections and remedies if the terms of that contract are breached. The level of complexity varies with each agreement, as does the types and levels of investment that are contributed by each partner.

In the case of the proposed Conference Centre Establishment Bylaw, the District will be entering into a partnering agreement with the owners of the new Days Inn being built in Tumbler Ridge. The desire to establish a well-equipped facility to host large scale events such as conferences has been in existence for the past several years. When the hotel?s developer approached the municipality about investing in the community, the ability to realize this desire came to light. Realizing that a conference centre was not in the original plans being proposed and that the inclusion of the facility would escalate the project?s costs, the District was able to provide an incentive by providing the land far below market value ($1.00).

Simply put, the terms of the proposed agreement are that the Days Inn build and operate a 3000 sq. ft. conference centre facility for a minimum of 10 years, offer discount usage rates to local non-profit groups and provide the District with a certain amount of free/discounted usage each year.

The District?s contribution is the provision of land. The final result will be a win-win situation for everyone involved, but more so for the community. This centre will represent a key piece of economic infrastructure for our town as we will be better equipped to host larger events such as conferences, meetings and forums. A great deal of products and services are required to host these events, opening up a wider scope of opportunity for local businesses that can provide them. In addition, with the ability to invite upwards of 350 people into the community at any given time, the local economy will receive more frequent burst of spending throughout the year. The icing on the cake, so to speak, is the inclusion of a 4500 sq. ft. pub/restaurant facility. At an estimated $10 million in value, this project will speak volumes to the investment potential in Tumbler Ridge and the innovativeness we will exercise in order to secure it.