Nanaimo's Hometown Hockey event nearly 50% over budget

By Dominic Abassi
February 26, 2018 - 5:56pm Updated: February 26, 2018 - 8:13pm

Nanaimo's Maffeo Sutton Park was a hub of festivities for Hometown Hockey but the event ran well over budget.Dominic Abassi/NanaimoNewsNOW

NANAIMO — One year later, the true cost of Hometown Hockey's visit to Nanaimo is becoming clear.

A City report, obtained via a Freedom of Information request and provided to NanaimoNewsNOW, showed expenditures for the Feb. 25-26, 2017 event in Maffeo Sutton Park were a little more than $470,000. It's a more than 45 per cent increase to the overall budget approved by councillors.

Expenses included $184,000 for "misc contracted services," $102,000 for materials and supplies, $23,000 for "hospitality" and $3,500 for travel.

In November, 2016 Council approved a $122,750 budget for festivities to support the Rogers event, as well as $200,000 for an outdoor skating rink on the waterfront.

The City did not respond to a request asking for details about some of the expenditures, specifically the $184,000 for "misc contracted services," if councillors approved an increase to the budget following the November public meeting or if anyone was notified the event was running over budget.

Coun. Bill Bestwick, chair of the Hometown Hockey Organizing Committee, said "At no time was I provided a concern or cost over runs by staff."

He said as the chair of the committee he "Volunteered hundreds of hours to deliver a week to 10 day festivity (in) downtown Nanaimo," adding they focused on raising money to offset expenses for the event.

"I think I was the only committee member to illicit (sic) or raise monies," Bestwick said.

The cost summary report showed $71,000 was raised in private contributions, $50,000 of which came from the Nanaimo Hospitality Association.

However, the City did not answer a question asking if the money raised was used to lower the cost to taxpayers or to increase the budget of the event.

An amendment to the 2017 financial plan, approved by councillors, said "Rogers Hometown Hockey Event – Expenditure budget increased $62,500, from $286,928 to $349,428, funding from Private Contributions."

City financial reports showed several expenditures were made by a sole source or direct award process, meaning they were not put out to open tender to potentially get the best value. Those included electrical services and several components of the outdoor rink.

An investigation by NanaimoNewsNOW revealed the average spent by 14 other communities which hosted the Hometown Hockey tour in 2017 was a little more than $13,000.

Meanwhile, it's unclear when or if the pieces of the outdoor rink the City owns will be used again. Staff said it would cost a minimum of $50,000 to set it up for another event. When justifying the expense at the November 2016 Council meeting, Bestwick described the rink as a "legacy" piece to be used alongside other events.

The original investment was supported by all members of Council, with only mayor Bill McKay opposed to the outdoor rink.

A City recap of the Hometown Hockey event called it a "success," noting it met the stated objectives of delivering "the best Hometown Hockey Festival, present Nanaimo across the country as a beautiful destination place and showcase community spirit." It said 12,000 people attended the event, community partners were engaged and nearly $10,000 was raised for local charities.


[email protected]

On Twitter: @domabassi

Baaaad sheep busts through fence, injures children south of Nanaimo