Loan payment

City will help cover annual convention center loan payment

After another year marked by the pandemic, the Winnipeg Convention Center will receive increased financial support from the city.

The City of Winnipeg will provide approximately $1.2 million to cover the annual payment of a $33 million loan guarantee, matching a previous payment last year. The annual charge is tied to the convention center expansion, which the city has used hotel tax money to pay for since the first charge came due in 2017.

“The past two years have been very difficult for the Winnipeg Convention Centre. With COVID-19 restrictions, many conferences and conventions have been postponed,” the Coun said. Scott Gillingham, head of the board’s finance committee.

With continued closures, capacity restrictions and travel impediments in 2021, it’s no surprise the center itself can’t cover payments yet, Gillingham said.

He noted that the center is obligated to refund the money.

Gillingham said a hotel to help pay for the expansion is currently under construction, while the province’s decision to end pandemic restrictions should also help rebound revenues.

“With the end of the pandemic, convention center reservations will resume,” he said.

A city document notes that the convention center’s share of the destination marketing reserve — which is funded by hotel tax revenue — contained $2 million at the end of 2021.

Gillingham said the city’s economic recovery should prevent the dwindling reserve from affecting future payments.

“I have no concerns at this time, given that we are seeing the pandemic wind down and (convention) bookings resuming.”

After two years of cancellations, major events at the convention center resumed this year, including the recent Wonderful Wedding Show.

Gillingham said he also wants the city to charge hotel tax to short-term rental companies. “It is time for the lodging tax to apply to short-term rentals, such as Airbnb. This will also (add revenue) to the destination marketing pool.

The Council awaits a report on this subject.

The city’s loan guarantee was created following a $180 million expansion of the convention center, which was officially completed in 2016. The hotel was slated to open the same year, triggering $17 million of new activities in the convention center and $16 million in tax revenue. to support the project, but a proposal has not been secured for years.

The Sutton Place Hotel and Residences is currently under construction.

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Twitter: @joyanne_pursaga

Joyanne Pursaga

Joyanne Pursaga

Born and raised in Winnipeg, Joyanne loves telling the stories of this city, especially when it comes to politics. Joyanne became a reporter at City Hall for the Winnipeg Free Press in early 2020.