Jamie Smith, tbnewswatch.com
Jason Susin makes a speech Tuesday evening.
THUNDER BAY -- A local committee wants to reward the city for its due diligence on a proposed event centre with a rally next month.
The Citizens for a Waterfront Event Centre is hoping 2,000 people will join them on the parking lot of the Water Street Bus Terminal, the preferred location for a centre, May 10 for a barbecue and boot hockey game to support the city's initiative and show the private sector how much support there is for the project.
"This is probably the best project we've seen put together in a long time," committee chair Jason Susin said Tuesday evening at Rooster's Bistro, where the group held an open house to find volunteers for the event.
About 50 people, a balanced mixture of young and old, showed up at Tuesday's recruitment drive.
Member Greg Alexander, no relation to the city's community and emergency services manager of the same name, said he's been waiting for more than 20 years for a new arena in the city. He remembers when the city decided to renovate the Fort William Gardens instead of building a new sports complex.
"This time around I just don't want to see that happen again," he said.
Alexander said he wouldn't support an event centre if funding from the provincial and federal government wasn't in place but so far the city is moving in the right direction to get the money in place.
Winnipeg's David Kiesman saw how the MTS Centre transformed his downtown, from jobs to concerts to the NHL. Restaurants and bars, something Thunder Bay has already seen increase in the downtown North core, also benefit. Living in Thunder Bay since January, he's hoping his new city follows in the direction of his hometown.
"A city's got to invest in itself," he said.
The group is hoping to get at least 20 volunteers to help plan the event.