Tbnewswatch Local News
2014-05-15 at 4:43PM

Event centre politics

City of Thunder Bay handout
By Jamie Smith, tbnewswatch.com

THUNDER BAY -- Four of five candidates on the city's North side say they'd consider supporting provincial funding for a new event centre if elected.

The city recently ratified a letter of intent with Thunder Bay LIVE!, a consortium of businesses that would operate and use the proposed centre, hoping that will help convince the province to help fund the project.

Current River Coun. Andrew Foulds, the NDP's Thunder Bay-Superior North candidate, said he would be a strong advocate for the event centre at Queen's Park. All three levels of government need to see the benefit of the project not only for the city's North side but for its job creation.

"They all need to have fair investment into this event centre," he said.

Progressive Conservative candidate Derek Parks said people in the city are more concerned with gridlock at the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre and other health care matters. But if an event centre is a priority for the city, he'd support it.

"I can't make any promises. I mean we're in debt. We’re going to have to evaluate what the important features are," he said.

Joseph LeBlanc, running for the Green Party, said the province needs to have a consistent funding model in place. When a community with a vision has decided on a project to support, like the city's current process for an event centre, it should know where the province stands.

"So it's clear what they can expect in funding structures from the province," he said. 

Liberal incumbent Michael Gravelle said the party has shown its support for the project, recently funding phase three of its feasibility study along with the federal government.

"I'm just one of those people who believe that the time has come for us to build an event centre in Thunder Bay so I'm supportive of it," he said.

It's hard to speak of specific funding now that an election is underway but the Liberal-minority government's infrastructure minister Glen Murray and economic development minister Eric Hoskins were supportive of the project Gravelle added.

Libertarian candidate Tamara Johnson said wouldn't commit provincial dollars to an event centre and wouldn't push for it in the legislature, 

"I think really, if the city doesn't have the money for an event centre, they really shouldn't be spending the money and they shouldn't be asking the province to pay for that because ultimately it's just going to ding taxpayers." 

The Ontario election is scheduled for June 12. 


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