Cunard Centre closure impacts downtown events

Last weekend, The Grocery Foundation of Atlantic Canada held its annual fundraiser at the Halifax Convention Centre.

"It was a huge success," said foundation volunteer Marilyn Roy. "People absolutely were excited to get out and get dressed up and see everyone in real life."

The foundation raises money for children's health care. In the past, this event happened at the Cunard Centre, which closed permanently in September after losing too much business during the pandemic.

"When the Cunard Centre was not going to reopen, it caused a scramble to find another location," said Roy who found a quick solution and made a last-minute booking.

"The people at the Halifax Convention Centre could not be more helpful," said Roy.

Events East Executive Vice President Suzanne Fougere said the Cunard Centre closure has brought a ripple effect to the event industry.

"What it means in the short term," said Fougere. "We are working closely with clients to relocate them to either the Halifax Convention Centre or other host venues across the city."

The Cunard Centre shutting its doors came at a time when the event industry was beginning to bounce back.

"What we are expecting over the fall, is 50-plus events," said Fougere, who added the 2022 calendar is also filling up quickly. "Local trade-show activity, local and regional conventions and those gala dinners and fundraising events that we have all come to love."

Restaurant and pub owner Joe McGuinness said he had been waiting more than 18 months to hear good news about big events and conventions returning to Halifax.

"It is great to hear that there is so much business on the books," said McGuinness who added, the downtown business scene is already experiencing a re-birth.

McGuinness also said conventions returning to Halifax are a giant step towards a return to overall normalcy.