Since the start of the pandemic, the Calgary TELUS Convention Centre (CTCC) has made it a priority to support its local community and events industry. On top of hosting digital events from its new virtual studios, the CTCC has served as both an emergency shelter and a vaccination site during the past year. Through these challenges, the venue has acquired a wealth of learning experience in not only handling crises and public outreach, but event safety. For more insight from the team on what it took and lessons learned, read on.
A Safe Shelter
As the CTCC and other members of the event industry around the world were forced to close their doors and reschedule events in spring 2020, the CTCC shifted its focus to serving as a satellite emergency shelter for community members experiencing homelessness in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. “The size of our center and the experience of our team were key considerations for the development of this initiative,” said Chet Reynolds, vice president of strategy and public affairs at CTCC. “We were proud to play a role in mitigating the impact of the pandemic on Calgarians, which includes our city’s most vulnerable citizens.”
- Equipped the facility with the highest level of health and safety protocols, approved by Alberta Health Services, including daily health screenings and use of PPE as well as increased sanitization, air circulation, and cleaning measures
- Created risk mitigation plans and ensured staff members were appropriately trained in those plans as well as emergency management and safety protocols
Since planners, venues, and suppliers are professionals already trained in these areas, continued Reynolds, their expertise can be applied to such large-scale initiatives. “Their analytical, operational, and communication skills can add incredible value,” he said.
Shifting Gears and Stepping Up
After COVID-19 forced many groups to postpone or reschedule their 2020 events, the CTCC found new ways to serve their clients and stay connected with employees. Partnering with Encore Canada, the convention center opened virtual studios for digital events, giving companies and organizations a platform to communicate without compromising safety.
Nearly a year later, the CTCC found that, once again, its expertise and flexible spaces would make it an ideal base for another challenge — vaccinating the community. In early April 2021, the CTCC opened as the largest vaccination site in Alberta.
In the months leading up to opening the site, the CTCC received its GBAC STAR accreditation and upgraded its ventilation system, which earned an award from the National Air Filtration Association for its indoor air quality. The designation recognizes buildings that have taken significant steps to increase the efficiency of their HVAC air filtration system.
So far, thousands of Calgarians have received their immunization at the CTCC, including many local event professionals and suppliers. “This is a very important initiative to support because every vaccine given brings the community closer to meeting again, and hosting in-person events in the foreseeable future,” said Melissa Kon, the CTCC’s director of sales and events. “It also highlights the preparation and level of professionalism that goes behind planning such an important program, promoting the value that the events industry offers to the community.”