The City of Abbotsford announced Wednesday (March 24) that it is gauging “market interest” for the operation of the Fraser Valley Trade and Exhibition Centre (Tradex).
The facility, located adjacent to Abbotsford International Airport, is currently being operated by Tourism Abbotsford Society, with all revenue generated reinvested in the property and Tourism Abbotsford operations.
A press release issued Wednesday morning said the city has now commissioned a request for proposals (RFP) as the first step towards “transforming the property into a revenue-generating asset.”
The RFP says proposals are being sought “from a company or individual capable of providing facility planning, brokerage or related advisory services.”
Tradex was constructed in 1991 to support Airshow Canada. It was managed by BC Pavilion Corporation until 2003, when it transferred to the City of Abbotsford as part of its acquisition of the airport from Transport Canada, but the city does not currently collect any revenue from its activities.
Mayor Henry Braun said in a Zoom press conference on Wednesday afternoon that Tradex is a “unique building,” which he believes can generate “significant money” for the city.
“We have an obligation to our taxpayers to keep our tax rate as low as possible and, by doing that, we have to look at all of our assets and look at them individually to see, is there opportunity in any of these assets? It just so happens that this is now the turn of Tradex,” Braun said.
He said by seeking proposals, the city can see what other opportunities might be available. Braun said he would be surprised if Tourism Abbotsford didn’t make a submission itself.
He said Tourism Abbotsford will continue to receive revenue from other local facilities such as Abbotsford Centre and the Ag-Rec Building, and the city will support those impacted by any changes at Tradex “as best we can.”
The city would retain ownership of Tradex through a long-term land lease or facility-rental model, the press release states.
In the meantime, Tradex will continue to be operated by Tourism Abbotsford, and all programming will continue as planned.
The facility is the second largest of its kind in B.C. and, in a typical year, hosts more than 90 events.
Events that have operated at Tradex in previous years have included the Vancouver Motorcycle Show, the West Coast Women’s Show, the West Coast Christmas Show and the Pet Lover Show.
The deadline for proposals is April 19, with a recommendation estimated by May 7 and the contract awarded by May 10.