THUNDER BAY. ONTARIO ---– March 25, 2015 --- The Thunder Bay Event & Convention Centre is an aspirational project that continues to receive broad support from the Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce membership although concerns are being raised about the proposed financial plan.
President Charla Robinson says, “The business community is well-informed about both the short and long term benefits that a new Event Centre offers to the local economy through job creation and investment attraction. Business owners also place great importance on ensuring the business plan makes financial sense and does not contain undo risk. The apparent lack of new federal funding support towards financing for the Event Centre project and the change from an equal three-way split between federal, provincial and municipal portions are big concerns.”
For over 4 years, City Council and Administration have pointed to a significant shortage of funds to address the basic infrastructure needs of our community and have increased the tax levy each year in an attempt to close that gap. Chamber members believe that Gas Tax funds received by the municipality should continue to be used to address key infrastructure of roads, bridges and storm sewers and not shifted to the Event Centre.
Concerns have also been expressed regarding the inclusion in the capital financial plan of private sector contributions through naming and sponsorship support. This appears to conflict with the Phase 3 Report business plan indicating that naming and sponsorship revenues are allocated to annual operating revenues and raises questions about the calculations used to determine the total annual cost to taxpayers.
Robinson concludes, “The Chamber membership remains supportive of the project; however, it is our opinion that the financial plan for the Event Centre is not strong enough to support moving forward at this time. We encourage City Council to vote against proceeding to Phase 5 based on this proposal; however, this should not be a ‘now or never’ decision and we should continue to work with stakeholders for as long as it takes to get it right.”