The producers of several events held at Tradex in Abbotsford each year have generated a petition urging the city to allow the site to continue to operate as an event facility.
The petition is in response to the city’s announcement in March that it had commissioned a request for proposals (RFPs) for the operation of Tradex.
The city said it is the first step towards “transforming the property into a revenue-generating asset.”
As a Zoom press conference on March 24, Mayor Henry Braun did not discuss what those options could be, saying only that the city wants to see what opportunities might be available.
Tourism Abbotsford has been running Tradex since 2003, with all revenue generated reinvested into the property and Tourism Abbotsford operations.
Among the events that have been held regularly at Tradex are the West Coast Women’s Show, Vancouver Motorcycle Show, Pet Lover Show, Fraser Valley Home and Garden Expo, Earlybird RV Show, BC Sportsmen’s Show, BC Classic and Custom Car Show, and several more.
The petition states that Tradex is the only facility of its kind in the Fraser Valley that is capable of holding large-scale events.
Almost 300,000 people attend events there each year, resulting in direct spending of $14.8 million in the community, the petition states.
“Losing an event venue like Tradex, that drives significant visitor spending in the fall and winter months, will handcuff many of Abbotsford’s key businesses – particularly hotels, restaurants and retail businesses. This will be devastating to the long-term recovery of Abbotsford’s tourism and hospitality sector.”
The petition says that the events at Tradex also raise money for charities such as BC Children’s Hospital, the Abbotsford Archway Food Bank, the Starfish Pack program, the Canadian Cancer Society, and the SPCA.
Following the city’s announcement, the board of Tourism Abbotsford Society issued a statement saying it was “shocked and disappointed” to hear of the city’s decision to seek proposals.
Board president Daniel Laverick said losing Tradex as an event facility would push millions of dollars and hundreds of potential jobs into neighbouring communities.
The city had originally set April 19 as the deadline for proposals but that has been extended to April 26, with a recommendation estimated by May 7 and the contract awarded by May 10.
The petition can be found at change.org by searching “Save the Abbotsford tourism industry by keeping events at Tradex.”