The Comox Valley Recreation Commission revisited Tuesday (Feb. 14) the idea of an agriplex facility, proposed for a corner of the Exhibition Grounds near the curling rink.
The Comox Valley Multiplex Society has requested a business case for the idea at a cost of about $75,000.
The Comox Valley Farmers Institute, noting the agriplex idea originated about 20 years ago, states in a letter that it believes a “wealth of possibilities” exist for agriculture and the entire valley if a comprehensive business case could be conducted.
District staff presented four options for commission members to consider: a report with further information; fund the business case; take no further action; or clarify details with the proponents.
Area C director Edwin Grieve feels that multiplex buildings are “a good bang for the buck” because they can be used for different activities. He notes a consultant gathered input from various groups in 2017 that suggested a facility is needed. Besides agricultural activities, it could be used for indoor sports, concerts, trade shows, conferences and graduations. Although the Exhibition Grounds are the preferred site, he said other locations could be considered if the idea is further explored.
“I think this deserves a second look,” Grieve said.
Comox director Ken Grant agrees the valley needs an agriplex. As it stands, event organizers are limited to about 400 people inside a building.
Area A director Daniel Arbour feels the idea is a “bit of a stretch” considering the district is facing financial pressure on all fronts. He added that business plans have said these types of centres are “lost leaders.”
Cumberland director Jesse Ketler questioned why the commission is revisiting the matter since it finished an Exhibition Grounds Implementation Plan in 2021, which contains short-term objectives with a $2.6 million budget, along with medium-term priorities.
Courtenay director Evan Jolicoeur, noting the need to spend wisely, has not heard from the public that this type of facility is needed.
“I think convention centres are struggling,” said Courtenay director Wendy Morin, adding the proposed site is not necessarily the right one.
Area B director Richard Hardy would like to pursue the business case, and to consider potential economic benefits to the valley. A business case could lead to the district finding an interested partner, he added.
“For us to say no, or let’s think about it in 10 years, is not being fair to the community or businesses,” Hardy said.
The commission, however, approved Morin’s motion to take no further action.
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