Port Alberni city council will be issuing a request for proposals (RFP) for a big screen for the Alberni Valley Multiplex, but council is not committing any funding at this time.
The concept of an LED screen at the multiplex first came up during a July 2020 meeting of council, but councillors were reluctant to make the purchase due to economic restraints due to COVID-19. Councillors also expressed concern about the fact that the request was coming outside of budget discussions.
The request came back on Monday, with Stefanie Weber—a member of the Alberni Valley Bulldogs’ ownership group—emphasizing that the Bulldogs fully intend to re-pay the city for the cost of the screen. The screen will allow the Bulldogs—as well as the city and other user groups—to generate additional advertising revenue. It would be a city-owned asset, with funding provided through the city’s parks and recreation reserve fund, and could be used for large-scale events like the Alberni District Secondary School (ADSS) graduation.
“It’s an opportunity for us to partner with the city, to generate something that the rest of the community could use as well,” said Weber.
In July, council was waiting to hear the results of an RFP for the naming rights of the Alberni Valley Multiplex. This RFP only received one submission, which did not meet the city’s criteria. The package will be re-issued at a later date.
Now, Bulldogs president David Michaud said he would like to see the process for the big screen started.
“The sooner we can go to an RFP process, the sooner we might have an understanding of the cost,” he said.
Councillors were torn, but Councillor Ron Corbeil pointed out that the city can always say “no” to any proposals.
“We’re not bound by a request for proposals,” Corbeil. “We’re going to be looking at the budget in the next month or two. Maybe we should get the ball rolling. We don’t even know what it’s going to cost—let’s find that out now.”
Mayor Sharie Minions agreed.
“I am not 100 percent committed to funding this yet,” she said. “In order for us to be able to make an informed decision, there is value in issuing the RFP now or soon, so we can have the information in front of us to evaluate at budget time.”
She also suggested that city staff “firm up” an agreement with the Bulldogs for the repayment period.
Council agreed on Monday to prepare an RFP with no commitment to funding. The results from the RFP will be brought to 2021 budget deliberations.