Nova Scotia

Halifax Convention Centre on track for busiest year yet

The Halifax Convention Centre is on track to have its busiest year yet.

This week, it’s hosting the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness, an event that brought in 1,850 people. And next week, it’ll host the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer, which is expected to bring in 500 people.

In a presentation to Halifax regional council last month, it said last year (2022-23) been the busiest to date.

“It was an incredible year of event activity here in Halifax,” said Carrie Cussons, president and CEO of Events East, the special purpose government agency that runs the Halifax Convention Centre and the Scotiabank Centre. She was speaking to Halifax regional council during a presentation on the convention centre’s annual report in October.

“… This was, indeed, a record-setting year for our organization and puts us on track to exceed the targets outlined in our approved five-year strategic plan at the Halifax Convention Centre.”

Cussons said the convention centre and the Scotiabank Centre brought in a combined $105 million in economic impact for businesses in Halifax and Nova Scotia last year, through the 270 events it hosted and nearly 680,000 guests that attended. Of the 270 events, the report noted 155 of them were at the convention centre.

Toronto’s singing out choir performed for a packed house at the Halifax Convention Centre in May. (Vernon Ramesar/CBC)

“Multiple high-profile corporate events, including Deloitte and FYI Doctors … drove thousands of attendees and millions of dollars of new spending into our local hospitality industry and businesses,” Cussons told council.

‘We have not slowed down’

It’s a big recovery from 2020, when regional council endorsed a business plan that included a deficit of $11 million because restrictions meant it couldn’t hold big events.

The convention centre is funded equally by the municipality and the province.

For the Scotiabank Centre, Cussons highlighted the Halifax Mooseheads and Halifax Thunderbirds seasons, the Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo, plus 16 entertainment shows and concerts that included Sting, Bryan Adams and Avril Lavigne.

A Halifax Mooseheads fan celebrates a goal during the Oct. 1, 2022, game between the Mooseheads and the Cape Breton Eagles at the Scotiabank Centre in Halifax.
A Halifax Mooseheads fan celebrates a goal during the Oct. 1, 2022, game between the Mooseheads and the Cape Breton Eagles at the Scotiabank Centre in Halifax. (Trevor MacMillan/Halifax Mooseheads)

Cussons said since kicking off the 2023-24 season, “we have not slowed down.” She said they’ve hosted a variety of concerts, theatre shows and special events.

“We are particularly proud to have hosted the North American Indigenous Games opening ceremonies, which celebrated and welcomed more than 5,000 athletes from 756 nations,” Cussons said.

170+ events at convention centre for 2023-24

More than 170 events are planned for the convention centre in 2023-24, including a series of medical-related conferences. For example, this month, there will be around 500 researchers and clinicians headed to the convention centre for the Canadian Cancer Research Conference.

Cussons said the facilities are being updated to be more inclusive and welcoming and that work is being done to make buildings more accessible. She said they are in the process of attaining Rick Hansen certification for the convention centre and recently completed an accessibility audit for Scotiabank Centre that should help in the development of a multi-year plan.

Coun. Waye Mason, who represents the downtown area, said he’s spoken to visitors who have come to Halifax to attend a convention are impressed.

“I can’t believe how much it punches above its weight, that it really looks like a facility in a much bigger city and it gives the vibe of being a much larger facility than it is in fact in terms of seating and capacity, but definitely very impressive for all the events that happen in there,” Mason said.

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