Late last month, Trade Centre Ltd. announced 30 events have been confirmed for the new Halifax Convention Centre when it opens in 2017. What they won’t say is who’s coming.
“Out of respect for our clients, we leave the timing of their event announcement to their discretion,” says TCL spokesperson Rachel Potter over email. “We work with each client on an announcement approach and only make the event public with their approval.”
Of the 30 events, TCL would only disclose seven conferences taking place in 2017 and 2018: the International Foundation of Employee Benefits Plan; Knowledge Discover and Data Mining; the Society for Marine Mammalogy; the Canadian Bureau for International Education; international women barbershop singers Harmony Inc.; the Federation of Canadian Municipalities; and STEMFest. The Co-operative Housing Federation of Canada won’t come to the convention centre until 2020.
It’s a markedly different list than the 16 previously scheduled events Trade Centre Ltd—the crown corporation overseeing the new Halifax Convention Centre—named in January, 2014. Only three of those conferences are included in the list TCL could release to The Coast.
The scheduling shake-up comes from the Halifax Convention Centre’s delayed opening, which was pushed back nearly a year to January 2017. As explained last fall by Joe Ramia and Argyle Developments Inc., the hold-up in completing the $164-million Nova Centre development comes from a lengthy public consultation process and a tough winter construction season.
Rachel Potter says 14 of the total 17 events impacted by the delay were retained by Trade Centre Ltd. Some have instead booked at the World Trade & Convention Centre, while others are “looking at future dates at the Halifax Convention Centre.”
TCL’s president Scott Ferguson has told the media his company has rebounded from the construction delay.
Checking with the conferences listed last January, it appears three conventions scheduled for 2016 will no longer come to Halifax. The Canadian Orthopaedic Association’s 600-delegate conference next year will now happen in Quebec City, while the Canadian Library Association’s 1,500-delegate conference will take place in Ottawa.
“We were disappointed to lose the business,” says Rachel Potter, “but there were no direct financial implications for us or the client.”
Also relocating is the Canadian Venture Capital and Private Equity Association’s annual conference, which will now take place next May in Toronto.
“We just haven’t been in Toronto for something like 14, 15 years,” says Kieran Lawler, the CVCA’s director of communications. “The vast majority of our names are here...it’s the financial hub.
“There’s a lot of good reasons to be in Toronto, rather than good reasons not to be in Halifax.”
All told, TCL expects 24,500 delegates from the 30 events currently confirmed, bringing $30 million of new money into the province. Rachel Potter says other conventions still pending confirmation aren’t included in that total. The first booking is scheduled for April, 2017.
Trade Centre Ltd. has spent $2.6 million over the last three years marketing and selling its new convention centre. As announced today, the not-yet-built Centre received the Members’ Choice Award at the 2015 International Association of Convention Centres Innovation Awards.
Original Trade Centre Ltd. projections from 2010 estimated the new convention centre would see 6,800 events in its first 10 years. Last year, TCL president Scott Ferguson told media it was his goal to attract 15,000 delegates in the centre’s first three years of operation.
Trade Centre Ltd.'s last annual report posted a $1-million drop in operating revenue, due in part to lackluster business at the current convention centre and office tower. The report found operating revenue was $480,000 under target, and down almost $975,000 from the pervious year. The World Trade and Convention Centre came in $335,000 below expected revenue as a result of hosting 52 fewer events (755 in total) than the previous year.
This year’s annual report is in the process of being finalized by Trade Centre Ltd. and expected to be released in the new few weeks. Potter would not comment on how many events the convention centre hosted this year, or if there had been any significant changes in revenue from last year’s figures.