Vancouver's convention centre a world-class jewel
After years of delays and budget overruns, Vancouver's brand new convention centre will open its doors on Friday.
Jutting into Coal Harbour in downtown Vancouver it is the new jewel on Vancouver's waterfront, and the man charged with running it says it is unique.
"I think of Hong Kong, Geneva... other world-class, potentially Cape Town, would compare to it. But this doesn't exist anywhere else in the world," said Warren Buckley, the convention centre's chief executive officer.
Not many convention centres can offer delegates and visitors stunning views like the North Shore Mountains. Even fewer would use more than two acres of hemlock for interior walls, or have a living roof with 400,000 plants and grasses.
And amongst its 55,000 square feet, and dramatic five-storey ceiling is Canada's largest ballroom.
But such beauty doesn't come cheap. The final price tag is thought to be $883 million, double the original estimate, though Buckley said that figure is too high.
"That budget was set two years ago. We will come under that budget... and that's it," he said.
Soaring costs for construction materials and labour are blamed on the increased cost.
During the 2010 Olympics official broadcasters from around the world like CTV will be drawing attention to the stunning view. The building will house the media centre as they show off Vancouver to the world.
Already, the new facility is drawing admiring glances, especially from the 90 convention planners from across North America who are attending the opening.
One, Kerry Crockett, is from Georgia.
"My group got to do the float plane tours, we got to see some of your wonderful clouds," she laughed. "The coastline is really beautiful."
And she's now booked two conventions -- one in 2012 and the other in 2018.
She's not alone.
So far, 184 events are booked at the new centre, all the way into 2018. That's expected to bring $2 billion to our economy.
With reports by CTV British Columbia's Mike Killeen and Renu Bakshi.