Greater Victoria municipalities promise money for Juno bid

Committee secures pledges at 11th hour, word on funding expected soon from province

Organizers of the Greater Victoria Juno Awards bid say they have enough municipal funding pledges to entice the province to significantly contribute to help bring the musical showcase here.

Directors with the Capital Region Music Awards Society have been making the rounds at council meetings across Greater Victoria in recent weeks, in hopes of securing $450,000 in municipal pledges.

They have not yet reached that goal, though the deadline to submit the bid is next Monday (April 30).

“We think we’ve got what we need right now in terms of the commitments to go to the provincial government and say there’s municipal support,” said David Hurford, with the Capital Region Music Awards Society.

He said he hoped to hear by today (Friday) whether the society’s request to the province for $1.5 million will be supported.

Saanich promised $100,000 on Monday. Victoria council pledged $200,000 last week, while Colwood has earmarked $16,000. Requests made to the remaining councils are in the works.

On Monday night, Esquimalt council agreed in principle to pledge a maximum of $17,000 to help fund the Juno Awards, if Greater Victoria is chosen as the 2014 host.

Some councillors questioned whether the event would directly benefit Esquimalt, though organizers suggested the township’s Archie Browning Sports Centre could host one of several Juno events in the lead-up to the televised awards show.

Calling Esquimalt’s tax dollars “precious,” Coun. Tim Morrison said the expenditure “would not be an appropriate use of funds.”

Still, the majority on council viewed the event with optimism.

Esquimalt Coun. Lynda Hundleby said the high-profile showcase will likely benefit musicians and artists throughout the Capital Region, including Esquimalt.

“I believe that as a part of the CRD we should put forward our small share,” she said. “I believe that this is a small amount of money, really, to participate on a regional basis.”

Council’s agreement-in-principle was applauded by some.

“I do agree that you have to be concerned about our tax dollars, but I think, as Coun. Hundleby said, we have to think as a region,” said Esquimalt resident Peter Ryan. “People who live here also work in Victoria, and this is a big event that a lot of people are going to be involved in.”

Resident Sherri Robinson said there’s a good chance Esquimalt will share in the economic windfall. “I certainly think our bed-and-breakfast people will have enough time to be able to benefit,” she said.

In their pitch, organizers said that while the bid and event have cost other host cities between $2.5 million and $3 million, the economic spinoffs are enormous.

For St. John’s, Nfld., hosting the 2010 awards pumped an estimated $10 million into the provincial economy.

“These are tough economic times for all orders of government representing taxpayers’ interests,” said Victoria Coun. Chris Coleman, who is on the bid organizing committee. “So you have to make the value statement saying, ‘This is a worthy investment for a whole range of different reasons.’”

It’s anticipated that thousands of people would attend galas, festivals, concerts and a host of other events at venues around the region in advance of the awards show. The televised awards ceremony would be held at Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre in Victoria.

Organizers say the entire affair would create demand for 4,500 hotel rooms and 100 limousines, among other services. The 2014 Juno Awards host city will be announced this fall or next spring.

emccracken@vicnews.com

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