Tourism Abbotsford will no longer be in charge of running the Tradex building as of July 8.
A city press release issued Tuesday morning (Feb. 15) indicates that Harbour Event and Convention Centre (HECC) has been chosen to run the facility to host trade shows, as well as concerts, filming and events.
The city will retain the use of Tradex for community emergency response at cost.
The release states that as part of the agreement, the city will receive 20 times more in annual revenue for Tradex than it did previously, with an estimated average of over $2 million yearly through to 2034.
This consists of annual rent starting at $1.17 million with yearly increases, operating expenses, property taxes and revenue sharing.
The city will receive $1.50 per ticket sold for any event, with a guaranteed minimum in place, as well as 25 per cent of revenues earned through filming.
The new website for the facility (tradexbc.com) went live on Tuesday morning, indicating that a new management organization, Fraser Valley Exhibition Centre Inc. (whose parent company is HECC), will take over the day-to-day operations.
“Comprised of some of the most well-known and awarded leaders in the trade and consumer, film, music and cultural event sectors, the new organization … is committed to building on the legacy of Tradex,” the website states.
“Our mandate is to provide superior benefit to our community through the expansion of annual shows, events, music and cultural experiences at this important public asset.”
Mayor Henry Braun said he believes the city and its residents will “significantly benefit from the agreement.”
“While fiscal responsibility for our community was a priority in council’s decision-making, we are grateful to be able to build upon the legacy Tourism Abbotsford built for Tradex by having this venue continue to be a premier location for events in our region,” he said.
The new general manager will be Peter Male, who has more than 30 years of experience in the planning of large-scale events, according to the website.
“Our team is committed to working with the existing tenant partners and the community as well as introducing and enhancing the building with new music, culture and film tenants, all of whom will continue to build on the important legacy of Tradex,” he said.
Male’s LinkedIn profile states that he was most recently the vice-president of sales for the Pacific National Exhibition, but was in a variety of roles with the PNE for 24 years.
He left the PNE at the end of December and formed Peter Male and Associates Ltd., a small company aimed at supplying services to the fair, venue and special-event industries.
Male has also been involved on the board of several organizations, including the Canadian Association of Fairs and Exhibitions.
He began in the special-events industry working at the 1986 World’s Fair in Vancouver and the 1992 World’s Fair in Seville, Spain.
Joining him at Tradex are Susan Steffens as director of sales and business development and Dan Afshari as director of operations.
Steffens has 20 years of experience working in the live-events and not-for-profit sectors.
Afshari has worked for 12 years as the business developer and facility director of the Harbour Event and Convention Centre and has managed large-scale festivals, trade shows, conferences and exhibitions.
Tourism Abbotsford has been running Tradex since 2003, holding several consumer events every year.
The facility is the second largest of its kind in B.C. and, in a typical year, hosts more than 90 events. These include the Vancouver Motorcycle Show, the West Coast Women’s Show, the Pet Lover Show, the Snowbird RV Show and the West Coast Christmas Show.
The city announced in March 2021 that it was taking the first steps towards “transforming the property into a revenue-generating asset.”
A brokerage/advisory firm, CDN Global (formerly Devencore Company Ltd.), was hired to help in the process.
In September, the Tradex building was listed for sale or lease. In either situation, the City of Abbotsford would retain ownership of the land – 13 acres in total.
Tourism Abbotsford was among the organizations that submitted proposals to operate Tradex.
Executive director Craig Nichols said the agency is happy to hear that the facility will remain event-based. He said the goal was always to keep Tradex as a multi-purpose event space.
“Our tourism and hospitality industry has been living with uncertainty since the review of Tradex was announced last March. Since this time, hundreds of local business owners and organizations, event professionals, industry colleagues, and residents have expressed concerns about the possibility of losing Tradex. It is evident people see Tradex as an important community and regional asset,” he said.
Daniel Laverick, board president of the Abbotsford Tourism Society, said it has been a privilege to operate Tradex for the past 18 years.
“While disappointed we won’t be operating it into the future, we applaud the announcement and the long-term commitment to tourism demonstrated by the city’s decision and look forward to working with the new facility managers to help grow events in the years ahead,” he said.