“Do we want our children in the Cardinal Concrete Room, or do we want them in the Black Tusk Room?” said Mayor Karen Elliott, referencing a location in the Brennan Park Recreation Centre.
No — Cardinal Concrete isn’t trying to buy naming rights to a room in Brennan Park, but it was an example of how a proposed sponsorship policy might reshape District property.
Structures, rooms, and other public items could be adorned with the names of corporate sponsors.
“I think that’s important, philosophically,” Elliott continued. “And so I agree with company-sponsored programs and doing advertising on the boards, but I am quite conflicted on the idea of naming something after a person or a company.”
“The Black Tusk Room could have a big plaque — ‘this room provided by’... that’s an important distinction,” Coun. Armand Hurford responded. “I think we could acknowledge both things.”
On Dec. 4, council provided feedback to staff on a draft sponsorship policy that could be a blueprint for corporate sponsors to have their names emblazoned on public property.
The previous council initiated the creation of this draft when it recognized companies might be willing to give cash for the Brennan Park Recreation Centre renovations in exchange for recognition.
As a result, if this policy sees the light of day, it will be piloted at Brennan Park as it gets its planned makeover.
“There are all kinds of issues around this thing,” said Coun. Doug Race.
“Right off the bat, I don’t necessarily want to say we’re going to name anything after anybody…. you’re always going to find people in the community who for whatever reason are not happy with that.”
However, the extra money may also come in handy, as Brennan Park renovations are projected to cost tens of millions.
For example, a new wellness and art centre in Brennan is projected at $11.6 million. A new ice rink adds up to $20.7 million. A new eight-lane pool has a price tag of $10.6 million.
All of these are items that authorities are hoping to add to the centre.
The District’s Real Estate and Facilities Strategy also proposes about $100 million for facility improvements or replacements throughout town in the next decade or so.
Since the District doesn’t have enough cash to pay for all this facility work, sponsorship may be of some assistance.
Among other things, the draft policy laid out conditions for what might or might not qualify as an appropriate sponsor.
Companies selling weapons, alcohol, tobacco, addictive substances and porn would be banned from sponsorship. There were questions about if marijuana would be defined as addictive, or if it suited the list at all.
Elliott wanted to add gambling companies to the banned category.
Citing global warming, Coun. Chris Pettingill wanted to add fossil fuel companies to that list.
However, that measure was met with resistance from councillors Eric Andersen and John French.
Ultimately, the fossil fuel discussion was deferred, as it was understood there’d be a viewing of the second draft in the future.
There was also the idea of creating ‘ethical scans,’ for companies with uncertain reputations. In these cases, staff would investigate their backgrounds and assess whether their ethical standards matched those of the District.
In order to avoid administrative traffic, the policy also floated the idea of allowing items under $200,000 to be decided by staff as opposed to the council unless it was a ‘risky’ company.
‘Riskier’ companies would always be referred to council.
However, council felt uncomfortable with giving staff that much discretion and asked that the threshold be lowered to $50,000 in the next draft of the policy.