Unprecedented and offering both hurdles and new opportunities in equal measure, 2020 was an incredibly notable year for the Vancouver Convention Centre.
Across our industry – locally and globally - the COVID-19 pandemic has had incredible impact on meetings and events while challenging venues like ours to adapt to new standards for operations and safety. At the same time, with few events taking place, 2020 opened a window to develop our relationships with clients and the community, allowing us to grow in exciting new ways and strengthen ourselves for the road ahead.
The year started out in typical fashion for our venue: transforming our spaces into memorable, unique experiences for our clients and British Columbians. From the wonder and excitement of Fan Expo to the powerful change that emerges from Globe Series (who celebrated their 30th anniversary this year), we certainly started the year with an exciting array of events.
In February, the Convention Centre also celebrated the 10th anniversary of the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games on Jack Poole Plaza. It’s hard to believe that only ten years ago, thousands of international journalists worked diligently inside to share stories that put our city, province and country on the world stage. Their stories about triumph, teamwork and so much more were broadcast through these walls, connecting the rest of Canada and the world to one of the most exhilarating moments in our history.
So many members of our community dropped by the Olympic Cauldron to look back and celebrate the incredible achievements of our City and province in 2010.
Then in April, in response to the quickly developing COVID-19 pandemic, the Convention Centre was tasked with converting part of our exhibition halls in the West building into an alternate care site in support of the province’s response efforts. Thanks to the combined efforts of our team, Provincial Health Services Authority, Vancouver Coastal Health, and several other key partners including the Canadian Red Cross, we were able to set-up the alternate care site for operation in our West building in only 17 days. It continues to be ready to operationalize if required.
Building on our work with the alternate care site and our team’s efforts to enhance the facility’s safety measures, the Convention Centre would also come to support the province in other ways. This included working with the Provincial Health Services Authority and BC Centre Disease Control to host their COVID-19 Rapid Response Team for contact tracing, relaying test results as well as a test-processing site in further support of the province’s pandemic response efforts.
With events on hold, 2020 also presented more opportunities to collaborate with local non-profit organizations supporting vulnerable groups and individuals throughout our region.
In partnership with Centerplate, our food and beverage team was able to provide over thousands of pounds of fresh food, including over two thousand freshly backed pastries, to organizations such as the Greater Vancouver Food Bank, Union Gospel Mission, Atira Women’s Resource Society and the A Better Life Foundation over the course of the year.
And at the beginning of the pandemic, our Event Technicians provided their expertise in support of Providence Health Care and Vancouver Coastal Health to set up one of the early COVID-19 testing sites for staff and physicians working on the front lines.
With a special Illumination in blue, we were honoured to join British Columbians across the province in recognizing our healthcare professionals and essential workers who have been working hard every day to keep us safe and supported.
Near the end of year, our team had the chance to collaborate with several of our industry friends and partners to host Redesign, a re-imaging of how events will look and operate in a post-COVID-19 environment. This was an initiative unlike any we’ve hosted before, created in response to the pandemic’s impact on our industry and the growing need to make events safer.
Redesign highlighted innovative new ideas and products for local event planners and organizations, creating a vivid picture of how events can still be successful while also incorporating new safety measures to enhance protections for guests, staff and attendees moving forward. We’re excited to see how those ideas take shape and help us improve the overall event experience in the future.
We have also had the opportunity to host a number of smaller, modified events including film shoots, industry exams and intimate business meetings using our new safety framework and through careful collaboration with those clients.
This was a year like no other, but while it may have brought new challenges and hardship, we are grateful to play a role in the fight against COVID-19 in British Columbia and are hopeful that our spaces will be bustling and vibrant again when the time is right. After all, if this year has shown us anything, it’s just how important it is to create meaningful connections, amplify voices and grow together.
Thank you for your continued support, and we look forward to welcoming you back again soon.