Skip to content

PNE gets $10M in new money from federal government

Pacific National Exhibition operates year-round and is best known for its late-summer fair
PNE CEO Shelley Frost peers out from underneath a model of the $65-million amphiatheatre that the PNE intends to start building next year

The Canadian government today confirmed that it will provide $10 million to Vancouver's Pacific National Exhibition (PNE) through its economic development agency that is dedicated to B.C.

The PNE is expected to use the money to help pay for a new roller coaster at the Playland Amusement Park, site upgrades for Fright Nights and the PNE Winter Fair, and sensory pods for neurodiverse guests.

The Pacific Economic Development Canada, often called PacifiCan, is providing the money through its tourism relief fund, which is providing $500 over two years to help tourism businesses and organizations.

The PNE struggled during the pandemic, posting an $8 million deficit in 2020 but has recently been running surpluses, PNE CEO Shelley Frost told BIV earlier this year. 

"Our last year's surplus was just over $3.5 million," she said. "We're just closing out another year where we'll probably have a $4-million surplus so we're continuing to grow that surplus so that we can keep investing more back into the site."

The PNE is a non--profit corporation so all of its surpluses go into the site, she explained.

The federal funding, however, comes at a good time for the PNE given that it is planning to next year start building a $65-million amphiatheatre financed by a loan from the City of Vancouver.

Frost in 2021 was able to convince the city to approve lending $65 million to her organization that operates on city-owned land. The interest rate has yet to be negotiated, Frost said, but she told BIV the city should be able to use its strong credit rating and borrowing capacity to finance construction at a better rate than what the PNE would be able to secure. The amphiatheatre would be able to host events for up to 10,000 people. 

Coun. Sarah Kirby-Yung told BIV that the city will require the PNE to pay back the loan within 12 years.

Frost said she anticipates that much of the money that the PNE will generate to repay the city will come from selling naming rights – for the entire amphitheatre, and for separate parts, such as the stage.

[email protected]