EDITORIAL: Wesbild Centre requires a plan

Wesbild Centre is a terrific facility and it certainly has provided significant benefits to the community since 2001. However, there is a problem, it frequently sits empty.

It’s a scenario many residents have questioned over the years, and now Wesbild Holdings — which currently has naming rights to the building — has taken notice.

Concerned that it may not be getting value for the $200,000 it  invested over five years, the company isn’t sure if it will renew the contract. And given Wesbild Holdings’ comments, it could be difficult for the Regional District of North Okanagan to find another company willing to fork out the cash.

While naming rights are a critical source of revenue, the primary focus for RDNO should be ensuring the multi-use facility is booked more regularly than it is.

Yes, luring concerts and other events to town is challenging and expensive, but how is it that Penticton — a similar-sized community — can attract top-name acts frequently? Director Jim Garlick says Penticton is “set up for tourists in a huge way,” but Vernon and the North Okanagan provide a number of amenities visitors are looking for. All that is missing is getting the word out.

Garlick suggests the priority should be ensuring facilities provide residents with activities like hockey and skating. That’s true but residents also don’t want to be driving to Kelowna or Penticton for concerts and major sports tournaments. They also want assurances that their tax dollars are used wisely and there are measures to reduce the operating subsidy.

It’s time for RDNO to get serious about marketing Wesbild Centre and being accountable to residents.

---The Morning Star

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