Peter Lewis estimates there will be 650 people coming to Sidney in May of next year to celebrate the rhododendron, contributing a significant amount of money to the local economy.
The western branch of the American Rhododendron Society is holding its 2015 convention at the Mary Winspear Centre. Lewis, representing the Society at Sidney council this week, listed off the potential benefits to the community as he asked town council for a donation towards a street banner program.
Lewis said the convention had been courted by the City of Victoria as well, but the Mary Winspear Centre management offered better persuasion to the organizers to come to Sidney, he said.
“This will focus more of the delegates in Sidney, rather than being spread out throughout Victoria,” he said.
Lewis pointed to statistics from the Mary Winspear Centre that show visitors to the area spend an estimated $380 per day — on things such as hotel rooms, meals and more. Over the three days of the conference in May, Lewis said the event could see that large financial infusion infusion into the local economy.
Councillors went for it and agreed to fund the banner program to the tune of $4,200. The money will help fund the creation of the banners and cover the cost of their design, featuring the so-called Champagne Lace’ rhodo, which Lewis said will be revealed for the first time publicly during the convention. The municipality will also cover the cost of municipal staff time in putting them up and taking them down.
As well, Sidney plans on proclaiming May 2015 as Rhododendron Month in the community.