Nova Scotia

Halifax Convention Centre operators to get more autonomy

The Nova Scotia government is giving Events East, managers of the Halifax Convention Centre, more autonomy. But the cabinet minister responsible for the file says that doesn't mean less oversight.

Business Minister Geoff MacLellan says more power to Events East doesn't mean less oversight

The Halifax Convention Centre officially opened its doors on Dec. 15, 2017. (Jonathan Villeneuve/Radio-Canada)

The Nova Scotia government is extending more power to Events East, managers of the Halifax Convention Centre.

Bill 51, introduced Friday in the Nova Scotia Legislature by Business Minister Geoff MacLellan, will allow the Crown corporation to hire, fire or set the salaries of its own senior managers without the need for cabinet approval. That extends to all executives except the president and CEO, which cabinet will still have a say over.

Events East is jointly owned by the province and the Halifax Regional Municipality. The Halifax Convention Centre in the city's downtown officially opened last December.

The proposed law would also allow Events East free reign to sign contracts up to $500,000 without first seeking the permission of the province and the city. Right now that ceiling in set at $250,000.

The bill also "removes a requirement for the Corporation to provide an annual report on the effectiveness and competitiveness of the operations of the Convention Centre," according to the explanatory notes that accompany it.

Although that appears to make Events East less accountable to taxpayers, MacLellan told reporters that was not the case. He said information on effectiveness and competitiveness will still be included in other reports. 

"Basically what that was, was almost a reporting of their operations vis-à-vis other jurisdictions," he said. "Looking at other provinces, looking at other facilities of that size, which will all be included in both the annual report and the strategic plan, so it's going to exist essentially twice anyway."