In a referendum, Nanaimo, BC voters widely rejected a proposed arena that could have hosted a hockey franchise.
The ballot initiative concerned Nanaimo’s arena proposal, which called for a facility that seated 5,700 fans for hockey but could host more than 8,000 for concerts. The hope for arena proponents was that the venue, if constructed, would wind up hosting a Western Hockey League team.
In the referendum, voters were asked whether they were in favor of the city “adopting Loan Authorization Bylaw 2017 No. 7237 which will authorize Council to borrow a sum not exceeding $80,000,000, repayable over a period of no more than 20 years,” for the arena. The vote was not close, with an overwhelming number of residents rejecting the plan. More from CBC News:
“It clear, there’s no doubt where the people stood on this,” said city councillor Diane Brennan about the 80 per cent of voters who said no to the project.
Numbers released around 9 p.m. PT on Saturday show that 19,179 residents voted no, while 4,706 voted yes.
Following the result, city officials will have to consider what steps could come next. In the aftermath of the vote, there was a mixed reaction among Nanaimo leaders, according to CHEK:
CHEK News asked Nanaimo’s mayor if this will end the conversation about an events centre.
“I believe it will for now.” says Mayor Bill McKay. “I think the community wants us to focus on other things.”
But the same question gets a different answer from Councillor Jerry Hong.
“I don’t think so,” says Hong. “It is an infrastructure project. Beban Park is old. Sooner or later we’re going to have to rebuild. Either we rebuild it there or rebuild somewhere else. I don’t think this is the end at all.”
The arena was proposed to have opened as early as September 2019, according to a preliminary timeline the city shared on its website.
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