For immediate release
Thursday, March 18, 2010

Media Release

New Data Shows Convention Attendance Drops Despite Expansions

(Halifax) The Coalition to Save the View from Citadel Hill has released new graphs that show event attendance has been dropping, even though Canadian convention centres have been expanding in the past decade.

The graphs were prepared by convention expert Dr. Heywood Sanders of the University of Texas at San Antonio at the request of the Coalition. The graphs show that, while convention centre exhibit space grew by 11% from 1998 until 2008, attendance at the top 50 Canadian events declined by 200,000 people or 32%.

Trade centres in other cities have used the same arguments as those put forward in Halifax by Trade Centre Limited in order to justify expansion. The empirical research of Dr. Sanders found that convention attendance in these cities did not increase when the size of the centres increased.

"It's very disturbing that the provincial government has not looked at the economic boondoggle the convention centre industry has become," said Judy Haiven, member of the Coalition.  "As a business professor, the first thing my students would do is to look at the stats and see that overcapacity of existing convention centres throughout North America in combination with declining attendance makes this sector a money losing proposition," concludes Dr. Haiven.  

The P3 convention centre was proposed by the former Rodney MacDonald government; however, the new NDP provincial government has not taken any of the off-ramps available.

"It's become increasingly clear that there is no business case, no green policy and no democratic process to support the proposed P3 convention centre," stated Peter Delefes, President of Heritage Trust.  "These graphs really call into question why the governments would risk $100 million dollars of public money without any evidence of a proper analysis or a transparent process," concluded Mr. Delefes. 

The proposed location for P3 convention centre is the site of the former Herald Building and Midtown Tavern.  If the private developer receives any public money, the allowable height of his private office and hotel towers doubles to 14 and 18 storeys, blocking the view of George's Island and the central Harbour from Citadel Hill.  The buildings will also privatize Grafton Street between Prince and Sackville.

The NDP's Bill Estabrooks, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal, is expected to announce a decision about whether the province will participate in the P3 development shortly.

The auditor general recently reported that P3 school contracts will cost the public $52 million more than if the work had been done by the public sector.  The NDP was against P3 construction when in opposition.

Media contact: Beverly Miller:  429-9540
Multimedia resources including high resolution images:
Facebook Group:  Help Save the View From Citadel Hill

SAVE the VIEW is a coalition made up of individuals and organizations including:
Ecology Action Centre (EAC); 
Heritage Trust of Nova Scotia; 
Sierra Club of Canada-Atlantic Chapter;
Community Coalition to End Poverty in Nova Scotia; 
Facebook-Save the View; 
Friends of the Halifax Common; 
Peninsula South Neighbourhood Association; 
Nova Scotia Public Interest Research Group (NSPIRG)