Operators of conference centres and other facilities in Canada are joining a global trend to be certified pandemic-resistant as they compete for billions of dollars in economic benefits for their cities. A passenger walks through Montreal-Trudeau International Airport in Montreal, Friday, July 31, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

Operators of conference centres and other facilities in Canada are joining a global trend to be certified pandemic-resistant as they compete for billions of dollars in economic benefits for their cities. A passenger walks through Montreal-Trudeau International Airport in Montreal, Friday, July 31, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

Canadian conference centres, airports, stadiums join rush for anti-pandemic status

Facilities must follow specific criteria to show compliance with the program’s 20 elements

Operators of Canada’s conference centres, airports and stadiums are joining a global rush to be certified as pandemic-resistant while they compete for events and visitors that will bring billions of dollars in economic benefits for their cities.

In recent weeks, convention centres in Edmonton and Calgary, B.C. Place Stadium in Vancouver and the Trudeau International Airport in Montreal have reported achieving GBAC Star accreditation from the Global Biorisk Advisory Council, a division of international cleaning industry association ISSA.

“It’s important when the messaging goes out that it is that ‘Calgary is a safe destination for conventions,’” said Kurby Court, CEO of the Calgary Telus Convention Centre, who said he is fielding booking inquiries for events three or four years in the future, potentially long after a vaccine has been developed for COVID-19.

“When you’re comparing destinations, this will be one of the deciding factors moving forward. Safety and biorisk is not going away.”

The accreditation is designed to show that training has taken place and there’s a proven system of cleaning, disinfection and infectious disease prevention for staff and buildings to head off biohazards like the novel coronavirus.

Facilities must follow specific criteria to show compliance with the program’s 20 elements, which range from standard operating procedures and risk assessment to personal protective equipment and emergency preparedness and response measures.

On Friday, Illinois-based ISSA unveiled a searchable database on its website for its growing list of accredited facilities.

“The GBAC Star program has more than 250 facilities accredited and 3,000-plus committed to accreditation in more than 80 countries, with additional facilities added daily,” said GBAC executive director Patricia Olinger.

The accredited list includes more than a dozen Hyatt hotels in locations that range from Danang, Vietnam, to San Francisco, along with airports, industrial sites and retail buildings around the globe.

“People spend a lot of time inside our terminal building when they travel, the same way they do when they go to a convention centre or a stadium,” said Anne-Sophie Hamel, spokeswoman for Trudeau International, adding it has also been certified under the Airport Health Accreditation Program offered by Airport Councils International.

“Those accreditations prove that (the airport) will be ready to welcome more passengers in the terminal, as soon as the borders open, and shows our deep commitment to keeping people safe and confident for their future travels.”

She said the airport is expecting about 71 per cent fewer passengers this year than last year.

The pandemic has hit airports and convention centres particularly hard because of border lockdowns that prevent people from travelling, along with local bans on large indoor gatherings.

In Calgary, the convention centre’s main ballroom was used to temporarily house up to 300 homeless people per night in April, May and June as a measure to enhance social distancing at the downtown Calgary Drop-In Centre shelter.

The room, which can accommodate as many as 4,000 people, has since returned to its usual role of hosting meetings and conferences but business has been less than brisk and the staff count has fallen by more than half.

Some customers have postponed bookings more than once, some events have gone to a “hybrid” model with a mix of in-person and online participation and many events have been cancelled entirely.

“It’s in the hundreds of events that have moved,” Court said. “It has a tremendous economic effect for the city.”

The BMO Centre at Stampede Park in Calgary, which also handles conventions, has also been certified by GBAC and the united front is important for Calgary’s reputation as a safe place going forward, Court said.

Certification involved preparing a exhaustive submission and paying a “nominal” registration fee of about $1,000, he said. The certification is to be reviewed annually.

Because of travel bans, no one from the association actually travelled to Calgary, he said.

Dan Healing, The Canadian Press

airportsCoronavirus

Just Posted

A tent housing a mobile vaccination clinic. (Interior Health/Contributed)
Over 5K jabbed at Interior Health mobile COVID-19 vaccine clinics

The clinics have made stops in more than 40 communities since launching last week

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Interior Health COVID-19 cases falling slower than the rest of B.C.

More than a third of provincial cases announced Thursday came from the Interior

A tent housing a mobile vaccination clinic. (Interior Health/Contributed)
Second dose vaccinations accelerating throughout region: Interior Health

To date, more than 675,000 doses have been administered throughout the region

Okanagan Lake (File photo)
Thompson-Okanagan ready to welcome back tourists

The Thompson-Okanagan Tourism Association expects this summer to be a busy one

Aerial view of a wildfire at 16 Mile, 11 kilometres northwest of Cache Creek, that started on the afternoon of June 15. (Photo credit: BC Wildfire Service)
Wildfire at 16 Mile now being held

Wildfire started on the afternoon of June 15 at 16 Mile, east of Highway 97

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

Police are asking for public assistance in locating Anthony Graham who has been charged with the murders of Kamloops brothers Carlo and Erick Fryer. (RCMP photo)
2 charged, suspect at large in killings of B.C. brothers linked to gang activity: RCMP

Kamloops brothers Erick and Carlo Fryer were found deceased in May on a remote Okanagan road

Albert Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney unveil an opening sign after speaking about the Open for Summer Plan and next steps in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta 1st province in Canada to lift all COVID-19 public health restrictions

70.2% of eligible citizens 12 and older in the province have received a dose of the vaccine

Fraser Health registered nurse Ramn Manan draws a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe at a walk-up vaccination clinic at Bear Creek Park, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, May 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Honour our fathers’ with COVID-19 vaccine protection, B.C. urges

109 new cases Friday, 75 per cent of 12 and up immunized

(Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Trutch Avenue in Chilliwack to be renamed to remove racist taint

New name to have Indigenous significance as Chilliwack takes new step toward reconciliation

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is seen during a joint news conference following the EU-Canada Summit, in Brussels, Belgium, Tuesday June 15, 2021. Trudeau says Canada is on track now to have 68 million doses delivered by the end of July, which is more than enough to fully vaccinate all 33.2 million Canadians over the age of 12. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine deliveries enough to fully vaccinate all eligible Canadians by end of July

Three in four eligible Canadians now have their first dose, nearly one in five fully vaccinated.

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam listens to a question during a news conference, in Ottawa, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021. The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases attributed to the highly contagious Delta variant grew in Canada this week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s public health agency reports spike in confirmed cases of Delta variant

More than 2,000 cases of the variant confirmed across all 10 provinces and in one territory

Bella Bella is on B.C.’s Central Coast, accessible only by air and ocean. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
B.C. provides $22 million for Heiltsuk development on Central Coast

Elders care home project, tourism, lumber mill supported

The federal government says it wants to ban most flavoured vaping products in a bid to reduce their appeal to youth. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Craig Mitchelldyer
Health Canada proposes ban on most vaping flavours it says appeal to youth

If implemented, the regulations would restrict all e-cigarette flavours except tobacco, mint and menthol

Most Read