British Columbia

Nanaimo says no to $80M waterfront arena

Eighty per cent of Nanaimo residents who turned out to vote on whether the city should borrow $80 million to build a waterfront new events centre and arena have said no.

80 per cent of voters in referendum against borrowing money to build event centre

Close to 25,000 Nanaimo residents voted in a referendum about a new event centre for the city's waterfront. (City of Nanaimo)

Nanaimo residents have emphatically rejected a proposal to borrow $80 million to build a new waterfront event centre and arena.

"It clear, there's no doubt where the people stood on this," said city councillor Diane Brennan about the 80 per cent of voters who said no to the project.

Numbers released around 9 p.m. PT on Saturday show that 19,179 residents voted no, while 4,706 voted yes.

Eighty per cent of Nanaimo residents voted against a proposal to borrow $80 million for a new events centre and arena. (City of Nanaimo)

The proposed centre would be on vacant, city-owned land and provide up to 5,700 seats for hockey, and about 7,100 for concerts. 

Proponents say a new events centre could revitalize the city's waterfront and downtown by drawing marquee concerts to the city and a junior hockey team.

But opponents were skeptical of those supposed economic benefits and don't think a large arena is the best use of the waterfront land, or taxpayer money.

Councillor Jerry Hong says he was glad the vote was decisive, but that the project could be revisited.

"I don't think this is the end at all," he said of Saturday night's vote.