Taxpayer savings point not clearly made

Economic opportunities few in city for naming rights

Re: Naming revenue not so abhorrent (Our View, May 9)

The recent editorial on the selling of naming rights for municipal facilities to corporate sponsors suggests that such a policy would result in “a good savings of taxpayers’ money.” By generating revenue through naming rights, so the argument goes, this will help reduce the tax burden for Victoria’s residents.

What the editorialists conveniently fail to mention is that a staff report submitted to council in April clearly indicated that the amount of time and money it would cost to have city administrators develop and manage a naming rights program would likely be “disproportionate to the potential opportunities” for naming rights sponsorships in a city the size of Victoria.

The report noted that since the Victoria Conference Centre is “the only lucrative venue for naming rights within the city,” it therefore did not make economic sense to develop a comprehensive naming rights program that would result in significant administrative expenses for taxpayers. Put simply, the economic rationale for selling naming rights in Victoria rests upon a shaky foundation, indeed.

It is all-the-more remarkable how quickly some are willing to auction off the symbolic identities of Victoria’s public places for what amounts to a meagre economic return.

Just about anything can be justified by claiming that it will save “taxpayers’ money,” yet would we be willing to rename the City of Victoria itself for the right price as, say, “Telus City” or “Save-on-Foods City”? Surely not, because the names we give to places are understood to play a significant role in creating the symbolic identity of a community. Reducing public place names to mere commodities cheapens their symbolic value.

Reuben Rose-Redwood

Saanich