COFFEE WITH THE ARMCHAIR MAYOR — Peter Sharp and I go for coffee about once a week. It would be an exaggeration to say we disagree on everything but there are quite a few things, including politics, that we don’t see eye to eye on.
Being a former City councillor, I thought he might have some views on City council’s discussion this week of a proposal to bring a conference on sustainable communities to Kamloops. The conference has been held in Kelowna for the past several years.
Most councillors weren’t enthusiastic about the idea of putting up $50,000 — or even $35,000, for that matter — to attract the conference, which would bring around 600 delegates to the Tournament Capital. In the end, council voted to offer $5,000 and a nice letter, which is unlikely to attract the organizers into moving the event.
Peter began by informing me I was an hour late for coffee. That was just the first thing he was wrong about as we sat down to talk about the issue for today’s edition of Coffee With The Armchair Mayor, which runs on CBC Daybreak Kamloops.
He likes the idea of putting up some taxpayers’ dollars to attract conferences, because they bring money into the city.
My argument is that we have found our calling in the Tournament Capital program. We bring more than 100 tournaments into town every year, with a spinoff value of close to $12 million. It works. And we didn’t have to spend a dime on building a convention centre — the privately operated Kamloops Coast and Conference Centre attracts just the sort of conventions Peter is talking about.
But he thinks we should do more. “I think it’s time for us to expand our horizons,” he said.
Over the years the City has spent a lot of money on tourism Kamloops and Venture Kamloops and much of it has been a good investment. Tourism Kamloops is now well-funded from other sources and Venture Kamloops does great work with attraction and attention. The taxpayers are doing their part.
This time, I agree with City council’s decision even though the content of the convention sounds worthwhile. But there just isn’t a good business case for paying that kind of sponsorship money.