The first question you should ask yourselves is: Does the economic rationale behind such a (naming rights) policy have any merit based on the experiences of other municipalities of a similar size?
In considering this question, I would urge you to first consult, not with a high-paid consultant that has a vested interest in promoting naming rights and corporate sponsorships, but rather with your counterparts in municipalities elsewhere on the island and throughout the province.
The City of Victoria’s Governance and Priorities Committee Report on Naming Rights and Advertising from 2012 concludes that:
• The city has limited opportunities to sell naming rights;
• A comprehensive naming rights policy and program is not required;
• The public may wish to be consulted before naming rights to any city facilities are awarded.
After a detailed study, the city’s staff noted, “…that the Victoria Conference Centre is the only lucrative venue for naming rights within the city. When compared to other municipalities who have pursued revenue from naming rights (e.g., Winnipeg and Toronto), Victoria is a relatively small market with few high-profile city facilities.”
Given this assessment, before you pay a considerable sum of money to a private consultant to conduct an “Inventory Asset Valuation,” you should ask yourselves: If a city such as Victoria—the provincial capital with a population over twice the size of the Municipality of North Cowichan—only has one or two potentially viable naming rights assets in economic terms, do you really need to pay a private consultant over $50,000 to use a ‘proprietary formulae’ to determine whether North Cowichan has anything comparable to Victoria’s Conference Centre?
Moreover, if the partnership consultant you were to hire would receive between 20-40 percent of the revenue generated from such naming rights agreements, the remaining revenue acquired by the municipality would hardly save taxpayers much at all at the cost of commercializing the symbolic identities of public places.
Reuben Rose-Redwood, Ph.D.Department of GeographyUniversity of Victoria
Editor’s note: This is an extract from a longer open letter submitted to the Municipality of North Cowichan and the Chronicle by Prof. Rose-Redwood. The complete letter is posted at https://goo.gl/yImLFe.