Convention Centre’s expansion plan has October start date

Tuesday, July 20th, 2004

Ashley Ford


The Vancouver convention centre expansion project plan calls for a ‘green link’ connecting Stanley Park to the Canada Place cruise-ship facility (shown upper left).

Construction of the long-awaited $565-million Vancouver convention centre will begin in October with clearing work on the site west of Canada Place where the existing convention centre is housed.

Talks are now under way between the Vancouver Convention Centre Expansion Project Ltd. (VCCEP), and the various float-plane operators who must relocate to allow construction to begin. It is not yet known where they will go.

Russ Anthony, president of VCCEP, has confirmed construction will start in October with a completion date for the 100,000-square-metre project set for 2008.

Announcement of the construction date will prove a big boost to convention marketing efforts.

Barbara Maple, general manager of the Vancouver Convention & Exhibition Centre, said in a telephone interview from Seattle that, while initial marketing worldwide has begun, having a “definite construction date puts more reality to the project and allows us to step up our marketing activities.” The final budget has also been set and approved by the Provincial Treasury Board. Russ Anthony, president of VCCEP, said setting the budget is an important step forward.

“To date we have been operating off a series of costs estimates, so it’s an important milestone to confirm a budget based on a defined program of facilities and an achievable construction schedule.”

The federal and provincial governments will now contribute $222.5 million each, the tourism industry a further $90 million and $30 million will come from project-facility revenues from a variety of sources including parking, supplier agreements and retail leases. That budget also includes $40 million to provide a connector to the 17-year-old convention centre and major refurbishing. That expense was not included in the preliminary cost estimates.

Anthony said the $30 million in project-facility revenues will help build a centre that will make it a unique “people place” for visitors and residents alike.

While final design by three companies — LMN Architects of Seattle, Musson Cattel Mackey Partnership and Downs Archambault of Vancouver — has yet to be approved, the latest drawings will differ little from the final product that includes a signature 2.4-hectare “living, or green, roof.”

The roof, specifically designed to fit into the natural spaces along the harbour and a “green link” to nearby Stanley Park will feature a mix of grasses and plants that will prosper in this climate and create a mini-eco system for insects and birds.

The centre will also serve as a showcase for B.C. lumber and include architectural and structural use of wood.

Over the next three decades, the centre is projected to generate $1.5 billion in economic benefits as well as more than 6,700 person-years of employment, plus create 7,500 full-time jobs when completed.

© The Vancouver Province 2004

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