City of Victoria councillors recently introduced the possibility of putting corporate naming rights to major city facilities, including the Victoria Conference Centre, out to tender.
People responding to an online petition that has sprung up on the matter have taken the stance that allowing businesses to brand public facilities, with a corporate name or logo, is an invasion of the taxpayers’ right to enjoy advertising-free public space.
However, the idea of using private dollars to help fund public programs and facilities in any municipality seems to be a good savings of taxpayers’ money.
Before people get all excited about the prospect of every parks department shed or swimming pool being “corporatized,” it’s obvious not every office building or arena in the Capital Region is high-profile enough to warrant or even attract corporate naming interest.
Unlike the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre, which happened to have enough space to allow a giant, conical shopping basket to be erected on one corner, plus a more tasteful rendition of its store logo on the main entrance to the building, most city buildings don’t have great amounts of space to play with.
For those that do, however, there are other examples of how it can work.
The West Shore has seen its two arenas named for Bear Mountain and Westhills, both housing developments and companies whose names have more of a geographic than a corporate sound to them. The Island Savings Centre in Duncan is another arena in which a local company teamed up with a municipality to mutual benefit.
And let’s remember, just because a company has its name attached to a building doesn’t mean it gets to dictate how the facility is used.
The province foolishly let an opportunity slip away when it chose to keep the name on B.C. Place Stadium. At a time when taxpayers are getting frustrated by continual property tax increases, municipalities shouldn’t reject outright this potential source of revenue.