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Nanaimo Selects Site for Proposed Arena

Nanaimo Arena rendering

Earlier this week, Nanaimo, BC selected the site for its proposed arena, a decision that comes weeks ahead of a referendum on the project. 

Nanaimo has proposed building a new arena, with the selected site located at 1 Port Drive. Details on the arena include features that would allow it to seat about 5,700 fans for hockey, with the capacity growing to as much as 8,300 for concerts. In building the arena, officials hope to attract a Western Hockey League franchise.

Selecting the site is a major step for the proposal, but it is by no means complete. Full details of the funding model still have to be finalized, and the arena’s current cost estimate ranges from $69.8 to $86.6 million. Furthermore, the council must complete three readings of a borrowing bylaw, the first of which is slated to take place today.

The referendum would be held on March 11, and those both for and against the arena are lining up their cases. More from the Times Colonist:

Kim Smythe, president and chief executive officer at the Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce, said the business community wants to see a business case, funding model and partnership possibilities.

Pro and con campaigns started gearing up this month.

Critics charge that the project is being “rammed through,” that costs could skyrocket, taxes rise and too much remains unknown, such as site-remediation costs on the Port Drive property.

Supporters argue that the community needs a new arena, that it would bring millions of dollars into the economy, create jobs and help revitalize downtown.

The city’s goal is to have all available information posted on Nanaimo’s website by Feb. 6, said Kim Fowler, chief sustainability officer for the city. Six open houses are planned.

According to a preliminary timeline on the city’s website, the arena could open in September 2019.

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