Tbnewswatch Local News
Sunday October 4 2015
5:13 AM EDT
2014-06-04 at 16:26

Re-purposing Gardens a $10M project

By Jamie Smith, tbnewswatch.com

THUNDER BAY -- A report on what to do with the Fort William Gardens is coming to city council with nearly $10 million in recommendations.

CEI Architecture's Conrad Boychuck said the sum of the report is that if an event centre is built, the Gardens should be re-purposed to be as flexible to the community as possible.

"The idea is not to make its use focused on a small group of sports," he said.

"It should be a building most people can use."

Ideally the ice and most seats, with the exception of some on the North side of the building that extend over part of the Fort William Curling Club, should be removed. It's recommended that the curling club stay as is.

That work is estimated at around $7.7 million including leveling the surface, which Boychuck said for some reason in the past had a concrete slab put on top of the original making the surface eight inches higher than the rest of the ground.

The ice surface could be replaced with a more general sports floor, around $387,000, that could also double as space for trade shows, farmers markets, pow-wows and other general activities while still being able to hold a variety of sports like basketball or badminton. Retractable bleachers, $356,000, could be installed for events like the annual Remembrance Day ceremony.

"So you can take full advantage of that large free span," he said. "So you can maximize its use."

The upper level would be converted into a walking track, $1.2 million, with space for fitness equipment, $150,000.

What's not recommended is demolishing the building at an estimated $3 million, including environmental clean-up, when the land is only worth around $300,000.

"It doesn't seem to make sense," Boychuck said.

The report to council said the recommendations should be looked at as a future strategic resource document. It will be presented Monday night.


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