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Serving up a Multi-Use Pig's Breakfast

Serving up a Multi-Use Pig's Breakfast

Multi-Use Turf Facility Plus New Police Station

THUNDER BAY, ONTARIO  ~~~~~~  May 9, 2021  (LSN)    Well, the goings on at Thunder Bay City Council are about to take another interesting turn as the options regarding the Multi-Use Turf Facility are about to be reserved as a re-warmed back to the future option.  As we all know, Thunder Bay City Council voted 7-5 against awarding a tender for construction of the project which with a debenture and interest would have cost $46 million.  Many in the community balked at this type of expense coming at a time when economic prospects are uncertain given the pandemic as well as the incidence of other infrastructure issues including the ongoing leaky pipe saga and a new police station.

In the wake of this setback for the proponents of the project, there has been a regrouping to consider further options including perhaps relocating to the area near the Canada Games Complex given the better soil conditions as well as access to municipal infrastructure.  The previous project was quite expensive in part because of the need to extend some municipal infrastructure (such as water) as well as drive piles more than a few stories underground to support the structure. 

Now the options include going back to a bubble dome concept at the CLE Grounds as articulated by one councillor in an op-ed which essentially amounts to rebuilding what was there in the same manner.  Apparently this might cost about $5 million on the part of the City of Thunder Bay (which is indeed substantially lower than the previous $46 million fixed roof option) and has even garnered nearly 60 percent support in a TBNewswatch Poll.  Needless to say, there will likely be pushback from the Mayor and other supporters of the fixed roof option.  And while the new proposal for reconstituting the bubble on its former site makes a lot of sense, the question remains why spend $5 million on that when private interests would have built it out of their own money – an option the city of Thunder Bay did not support.  Indeed, this alternate proposal now seems to have lapsed.

This has become a veritable pig’s breakfast of a policy issue and in the end a lot of time has been wasted in this discussion coming full circle like this.  Apparently vehicular roundabouts are not the only circular projects Thunder Bay City Council likes, as policy roundabouts and turns are also another specialty.  While this is the most sensible option, it has become pretty clear that it is was not a more expensive turf facility per se that was the preferred option of Thunder Bay City Council but any option that involved spending municipal money rather than allowing a private sector solution.  Still, at $5 million, this may swing over a number of others on Council.  This type of facility is actually something that should occur  by the current needs of the recreation community in Thunder Bay. 

If this is really about providing a venue for soccer, then this is probably as good as it gets. The savings of going with a bubble dome option are substantial and needed.  After all, the City of Thunder Bay faces numerous expenses from assorted lawsuits in the years to come over issues with its water system going back to the 2012 flood.  And there are likely more lawsuits to come from insurance companies as they quietly collect samples of leaky pipes from assorted households and do their own analysis before launching massive suits to recover their costs.  If Thunder Bay City Council really wants to get a facility in place before other unforeseen expenses pile up, they might want to act quickly before they are diverted again on the policy roundabout.

LSN_TBay  #LSN_Econ 

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The Northern Economist blog started on Shaw Webspace as commentary and analysis of economic issues and policy from a Northern Ontario perspective by Livio Di Matteo, Professor of Economics at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada. It had regular posts from November 2010 to February 2012. Posts continued on Northern Economist 2.0 until 2013 when I took an extended break. Occasional posts resumed effective December 2016. With Shaw terminating its blog space functions, I have archived the old posts at: northerneconomistarchive.blogspot.ca.

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