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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The concept design for the spray park and playground in Pogadl Park. (Photo Courtesy of Canadian Recreation Solutions)
Sylvan Lake spray park tentatively scheduled to open next year

Sylvan Lake Town Council approved the tender of the spray park and playground in Pogadl Park

Alberta's chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw says Albertans need to keep making safe choices to start bending the curve back down. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
One new COVID-19 death in Red Deer, 257 additional cases province-wide

Red Deer sits at 459 active cases of the virus

One of the oil paintings stolen from a season home near the boat launch on Kuusamo Krest. (Photo Submitted)
Sylvan Lake RCMP search for paintings stolen from vacation home

Three original paintings were reportedly stolen from a seasonal home

A lone skater practises his shot on a melting outdoor rink recently. As of March 2, all outdoor skating rinks, including the ones on the lake, are closed for the season. (Photo Submitted by Town of Sylvan Lake)
All outdoor skating rinks in Sylvan Lake closed for the season

The Town announced Tuesday morning the rinks on the lake were also closed due to the warm weather

A health-care worker looks at a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at the Palais de Congress site as Quebec begins mass vaccinations based on age across the province, Monday, March 1, 2021 in Montreal.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Nearly 1 million COVID-19 vaccine doses arriving in Canada this week: Anand

Anita Anand says she’s received assurances from the vaccine manufacturer

A vial of some of the first 500,000 of the two million AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses that Canada has secured through a deal with the Serum Institute of India in partnership with Verity Pharma at a facility in Milton, Ont., on Wednesday, March 3, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Carlos Osorio - POOL
Federal panel recommends 4-month gap between COVID vaccine doses due to limited supply

The recommendation applies to all COVID-19 vaccines currently approved in Canada

hands
The call is out in Rimbey to sign on with a group that is all about building connections

‘Already, we are building a network where we can rely on each other and help each other out’

FILE - Dolly Parton arrives at the 61st annual Grammy Awards on Feb. 10, 2019, in Los Angeles. The Grammy-winning singer, actor and humanitarian posted a video on Tuesday, March 2, 2021, of her singing just before getting her COVID-19 vaccine shot. Parton donated $1 million to Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee for coronavirus research. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File)
‘Vaccine, vaccine’: Dolly sings ‘Jolene’ rewrite before shot

The Grammy-winning legend turned 75 this year

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland speaks about the Fiscal update during a news conference in Ottawa, Monday November 30, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
COVID-19: Wage and rent subsidies, lockdown support to be extended until June

Chrystia Freeland says now is not time to lower levels of support

Many rural seniors are having to travel a long way to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Stettler residents are being told to go to Red Deer, Drumheller or Camrose. (Black Press file photo).
Rural central Alberta seniors have to travel far to get vaccines

Stettler residents are being directed to Red Deer, Drumheller or Camrose clinics

Samantha Sharpe, 25, was stabbed to death at Sunchild First Nation on Dec. 12, 2018. Chelsey Lagrelle was sentenced to 4.5 years in prison for manslaughter in a Red Deer courtroom on Tuesday. Photo contributed
Central Alberta woman sentenced to 4 1/2 years for stabbing friend to death in 2018

Chelsey Lagrelle earlier pleaded guilty to stabbing Samantha Sharpe during argument

Calgary police say they received 80 hate crime complaints between January and November 2020. (Pixabay)
‘Racism is a real problem:’ Muslim women fearful following attacks in Edmonton

So far in 2021, three of seven hate-crime-related investigations have involved Somali-Muslim women

Alberta Minister of Health Tyler Shandro speaks during a news conference in Calgary on May 29, 2020. Shandro says Alberta is considering whether to extend the time between COVID-19 vaccine shots to four months. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Alberta may follow B.C.’s lead on faster rollout of first COVID-19 dose

Tyler Shandro says a committee of COVID-19 experts is analyzing emerging data and a decision is coming

Most Read