By Ben Isitt, Victoria News, July 20, 2012Would the name of the City of Victoria be on the table if the price was right?
Coun. Ben Isitt raised the question Thursday to push the boundaries during a debate about a proposed naming-rights policy.
“Would a tree be eligible as a city asset?” he pushed further. “Would the leaves on a tree be eligible?”
Dean Fortin, however, lost patience with the trajectory.
“I believe you’re being extremely rhetorical,” the mayor said, cutting into Isitt’s rail.
In a narrow 5-4 vote, councillors – sitting as the governance-and-priorities committee – approved moving forward with the draft policy.
The next step is a full public consultation, to gauge support of the revenue-generating idea and help narrow down which city assets should be on the market for naming, if any.
While Isitt took the concept to the extreme, the range of possibilities for corporate naming are wide: fire halls, municipal buildings, community centres.
Realistically, the assets likely to attract sponsorship are fewer. City staff identified the conference centre, community centres, the Crystal Pool and “bridges.”
Coun. Pam Madoff wondered aloud what the value might be of a corporate-naming right. “How are those decisions going to be made?” she asked.
As an example, Madoff pointed to the University of British Columbia, where a corporation must pay one-third of the cost of a building to put its name on it.
Coun. Lisa Helps said that’s the appropriate scale to look at.
“If someone wanted to name the Johnson Street Bridge, they’d have to pay a minimum of $31 million,” she said. “That’s an interesting proposition. I’m very interested in that.”
Public consultation on the policy would likely be held in conjunction with the city’s public budget meetings, scheduled for the fall.
Linking the two discussions has the advantage of putting potential naming-rights revenue in context of the city’s greater financial picture, said Coun. Marianne Alto, who drafted the first naming-rights policy for discussion at council.