HALIFAX, N.S. — Attendees and local businesses are happy in downtown Halifax as another convention brought about 1,500 people and a flood of money to the area.
The FYidoctors Annual General Meeting officially started on Friday. The group operates clinics across Canada offering eye care and medical aesthetic services, including 29 in the Atlantic region.
The AGM, which is currently taking place at the Halifax Convention Centre, was scheduled to take place in 2020 until COVID-19 derailed everything, said Darcy Verhun, president of health group FYidoctors, in a telephone interview on Saturday.
“And then we thought we could do it again in 2021 and the same thing happened,” he said.
“We’re so excited that we still have the facility here, the new convention center and all the fantastic hotels and everything. And then, in the evening, we have after parties in different bars in the city center. We were treated like royalty here, so it was an amazing event for us.
Verhun said there aren’t many places in Canada that have a facility that can accommodate 1,500 people, adding that the last time the group held its AGM in Halifax was in 2013 and the participants numbered just over 300 people.
It has been an uplifting experience to be able to have it now, he said.
“Our brand DNA is made up of two words: it improves lives. It’s all about the relationship and the connection and the difference that we create, so for our team to come together and connect like that is – from a cultural and relationship perspective – that’s the thing. more important than we do.
COVID mitigation protocols for participants included comprehensive testing before boarding their planes to come to Nova Scotia and testing after arrival. Verhun said there were only eight people who had to cancel and no one has tested positive since arriving.
Masking is also in effect for indoor portions.
“Friday was the official start date (but) we’ve had people here since Tuesday getting organized and stuff,” Verhun said.
The Arkells and Steven Page each played sets on Friday as part of the entertainment for the event and iconic musician Tom Cochrane was due to perform on Sunday at the launch of his branded eyewear frame line.
“We are grateful to be able to be here,” Verhun said. “Grateful to be together, grateful for how the community has welcomed us. We have quite a strong presence in the Atlantic region and we intend to continue to grow and serve the community through the eye care, eye health and soon with our presence in medical aesthetics in Atlantic Canada as well.
Rise in business
Brian Doherty, owner of the Old Triangle Irish Alehouse, said conventions such as FYidoctors are a welcome and much needed signal that things are getting back to normal and are much needed.
“There have been a number of conferences almost every week lately and we have certainly seen an increase in business over this period,” Doherty said. “And even with the concerts and everything, whenever there’s a convention or a concert, I think all the businesses are doing well downtown, so I’m glad to see it coming back to some semblance of normality because that it’s been quite a difficult and fragile couple of years.”
Doherty said it will be Monday before we see company numbers to gauge the impact of the FYIdoctors convention. But weekends have been strong for the Old Triangle lately, he said, helped by bookings of an upstairs venue which has been “more than busy” in recent weeks with private functions .
“For all of us, our model is not running at 50% capacity, that’s just the bottom line,” Doherty said. “But luckily the government listened to us and helped us, so now we want to get back to where we can do our own thing and add to the economy again instead of being sort of aid recipients. social government, really, keeping all of our businesses alive.
“So we’re delighted.”
Staffing levels are always a challenge, he added.
“We are all very positive about summer and with patio season once everything is up and running and the weather warms up, I think that will hopefully get us back to pre-pandemic numbers. And our downfall also seems to be strong for bookings, which we haven’t had for the past two years due to uncertainty over whether or not we’ll be able to operate due to restrictions, but that all seems to have passed by the wayside now.
Spencer Thomas, general manager of the Wooden Monkey restaurant in Halifax, agreed there was definitely an uptick in business.
“Being so close to the conference center, we are directly impacted by these conferences and have seen a significant upsurge, especially in the lunch service of people from these conferences,” Thomas said. “Even when I left work last night it was around midnight, and that was an interesting juxtaposition because if you know Grafton Street it’s usually all college-aged kids, but there were quite a few. , i would say, from the time I walked from one end to the other, saw about 30 people from the conference, badges, suits, ties, just around having drinks, hanging out And, of course, obviously earlier in the day, we had some pretty busy lunches because of these conferences.”
Thomas also said The Wooden Monkey has arranged reservations for people who want to have meetings outside of conferences, as well as at one of their catering spaces to meet and have networking sessions.
Verhun estimated that the AGM contributed approximately $2 million to the local economy through tourism and 2,000 room nights booked at local hotels.