The Hotel and Former Mayor Korpan

Letter to the Editor:

That former Mayor Korpan is “Shocked and appalled” (letter, June 18) by Council’s behaviour in discussing a proponent proposed doubling of the time allowed to proceed with the latest Conference Centre hotel project is, in itself, shocking and appalling. Once bitten, twice shy. Need we be reminded of the ongoing money pit presented by our present Conference Centre.   Mr. Korpan, aided by Councillor Brennan and her then fellow Councillors (minus Loyd Sherry), led us into a quagmire costing millions a year and rising.

A referendum was held on the project on November 20, 2004, which barely passed. It assured voters that the Conference Centre/Mariott Hotel   project would be completed at a cost of no more than $49.5 million (plus $3 million from the Province) coming from City taxpayers. We can all remember that before the agreement finally fell apart, the front end cost to Nanaimo taxpayers ballooned by 40% to $72.5 (to the best of my knowledge no forensic accounting of this project has ever been done) and the promised hotel which was to be developed simultaneously disappeared without a by your leave (or the return of funds advanced by taxpayers). Both of the conditions required by the referendum thus vanished into the bowels of City Hall… but the ongoing costs did not.

It is best to remember the old saying that those who forget history are doomed to repeat it.   Nanaimo taxpayers are continuing to pay high costs for bad decisions and poor contracts in the matter of this Conference Centre. It is no wonder that talk of projects which fall into the shadow of such history lead to heated discussion. Would that there had been much more such discussion back in 2004.