Mayor Don Iveson said he’s confident there will be another K-Days, inspite of the warning from Northlands CEO Tim Reid that the future of the festival is in jeopardy. All this ahead of council’s vote this month on the Northlands’ Vision 2020. Reid suggests “it’s possible” that if council votes down the Northlands submission, they won’t be able to stage K-Days in 2017.
“Council never responds well to being put in that sort of pressure, so I’m not sure that’s a helpful suggestion at all.”
“Their financial situation is, they’re describing it as dire and so we understood that. It’s now sounding a little worse than maybe I had understood,” said the mayor.
“I’m confident that there will be a K-Days or something like it next year, operated by Northlands or somebody like it next year, one way or the other. It’s important to Edmontonians that we have big summer festival like that. I actually think there’s opportunities to improve it and that’ll happen regardless of who’s running the festival although ideally we find a solution with Northlands where they continue to be involved.”
Iveson said several reports from city staff on the viability of converting Rexall Place to community ice, revamping the Expo Centre and getting out of the horse racing business has left a lot of ‘uncertainty’ for Northlands.
“I get that it’s a time of great uncertainty for Northlands, I’m sympathetic to that, but some significant restructuring needs to come. I think we can get quite creative in how Northlands and their facilities work with the city and Edmonton Economic Development in particular around the Shaw, all to drive greater business outcomes in the city.”
“Undercutting each other for high school grads or something is not what we should be doing. We should be out there going after oil and gas trade shows, green energy trade shows, and food and agriculture trade shows.”
There has long been talk of putting both facilities under one management group. There is even suggestion of renovating the Coliseum LRT station so it’s fully enclosed, so convention or trade show goers can move from the Shaw to Northlands Expo Centre with out having to venture outdoors.
He also said council won’t do anything hasty. “Any time council rushes to make a decision our track record is not as good as when we take our time and hear from the public. So I don’t think we’ll be rushed into anything but again we can step in if necessary.”
Iveson is encouraging the public to give its ideas on what should happen with Northlands. A vote by city council will happen on the Vision 2020 plan, on August 31.