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Kenora event centre promoters pitch $160K business plan

The city of Kenora is forging ahead with plans for a proposed new event centre.

Kenora has missed out on hosting events, because it lacked a large enough facility, advocates say

A Kenora city official says a new event centre would bring in more events and boost year-round tourism. (kenora.ca)
Thunder Bay isn't the only city dreaming of a shiny new event centre. Kenora is also weighing the pros and cons of a bigger, better rink and conference facility. Chris VanWalleghem is the chair of the Event Centre Committee 6:33

The city of Kenora is forging ahead with plans for a proposed new event centre.

The idea is to expand the existing Kenora Recreation Centre to create a larger rink and new convention centre.

The chair of the city's event centre committee said the next step is to raise money to complete a $160,000 business plan. The city will contribute half, and the committee is working on raising the rest of the money.

"So we're … plugging away and, once this business plan gets out there, then I think we'll see whether … it's going to be a money-losing proposition or it's gonna be good for the city," Chris VanWalleghem said.

This new event centre would have the whole works.- Chris VanWalleghem, Kenora event centre committee chair.

In the past, Kenora has missed out on opportunities to host events, because it lacked a large enough facility, he said, adding that building the event centre would solve that problem.

"We have different events we've tried in Kenora and we just couldn't do it because we don't have the facilities there for the conference,” VanWalleghem said.

“But this new event centre would have the whole works — the industrial kitchen and that — so we're thinking it could bring in lots of different events to the city."

Currently the recreation centre has one sheet of ice, a swimming pool and a gym. But the new vision includes a second ice surface, and a convention centre.

VanWalleghem said the centre could bring in more events, and boost year-round tourism.

He said if there were event centres in Kenora, Winnipeg, and Thunder Bay, those facilities could work together to attract travelling acts and events.

“We can get the different concerts and stuff going through the country," he said. "Hopefully we'll all work together and it'll work out good for everybody."

VanWalleghem noted there is a lot of public support for an event centre, but not everyone is in favour. He said he expects this will be a big issue in the fall municipal election.

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