As such, this meant that all the other Fairs across the country were able to access the CEWS at this difficult time, however, the PNE is the only fair that has been deemed ineligible. If the PNE is unable to access the CEWS, it would mean that they would not be able to have the non-seasonal staff do the necessary work to plan for a return in 2021. This would be devastating as it would spell the end for this 110-year-old organization.
I first corresponded with you about the situation faced by the Pacific National Exhibition (the PNE) on April 21, 2020. PNE President & CEO Shelley Frost advised that at that time, “Since March 15th the PNE had 249 event cancellations totalling over $8.2 M in revenue. The loss of a summer operating season (Playland and PNE Fair) will result in another $42 million in revenue losses by November 2020...The PNE‘s only financial safety net is a $15 million credit line. With COVID shutting down the economy at the start of our spring revenue season, the PNE goes deeper into that credit line daily. We have minimized expenses, shut down services to various buildings on site and conducted maximum level layoffs to maintain as much room as we can within that credit line for the coming months. But once that credit line is maxed out, we have no options.”
The PNE has taken many measures to reduce its costs, including the lay-off of some 120 full-time union and management staff; another 1600 part-time staff are also not working, and the remaining management staff have already taken a pay cut. These job losses are in addition to the 2500 seasonal staff that are usually employed at the PNE’s seasonal peak.
Furthermore, the economic spin-offs of the Fair at the PNE are far-reaching, and they estimate their local economic impact is over $200 million each year. In addition to the thousands of people employed by the PNE itself, thousands more are employed by vendors, sponsors and suppliers. Many local businesses in my riding benefit from the hundreds of thousands of Fair visitors who pass through the Hastings-Sunrise corridor. Many families’ livelihoods depend upon its survival.
The PNE is also more than a major economic driver and employer in my riding. In the words of singer Michael Bublé, whose career launched after winning a talent competition at the PNE, as he said in 2010 to mark the PNE’s 100th anniversary celebration: “It’s one of the few places where generations of people can share common memories...Whether it’s of a first job or a first fair ride, a concert or a hockey game, PNE memories are part of the fabric of Vancouver and BC.”
The PNE is home to Playland, a 15-acre amusement park where generations of children from East Van enjoyed their first taste of cotton candy, and one of the best Wooden Roller Coasters remaining anywhere; and it’s home to Fright Nights, an annual Hallowe’en celebration that draws thrill seekers from across the Lower Mainland of BC – and gives many emerging actors one of their first regular gigs.
The PNE is a gathering place for people of all cultures and backgrounds. Hoobiyee has been celebrated at the PNE Forum for many years. Almost every pop music act you can imagine has graced the stage at the PNE, at the Coliseum or the Agrodome over the decades.