Ray Smith hands out fliers on April 19, 2012
Tony and Adams PartiesCocktail Parties, Birthday Parties, Receptions and Showers...click here and book your party at TnA's today!Click Here
The debate for the future home of the proposed event centre continues across the city and online.
The two most popular locations for the event centre have remained downtown Port Arthur and Innova Park, while third option – property near the Thunder Bay airport – remains largely ignored.
Johnny De Bakker created the Facebook page Citizens for a Downtown North Core Multiplex more than a year ago and so far more than 900 people have signed up.
He said he created the group so likeminded people could have a discussion on the proposed spot. De Bakker pointed out some of the members aren’t in favour of downtown Port Arthur and are using the page as a way to voice their opposition.
For him, the choice is obvious.
“We’re looking for a long term solution not just a band aid solution,” De Bakker said. “We’re looking at what benefits the city as a whole. There was that open house in the last couple of weeks where they showed the economic spin off of this and (downtown Port Arthur) was hands down, no question the best spot.”
One of the main concerns around Port Arthur has been the availability of parking. De Bakker admitted that it is an issue but it is being resolved.
De Bakker said he wasn’t sure if they would take their fight for downtown Port Arthur to the next step but right now they have the Facebook page where people can continue to discuss the issue.
“At the end of the day, people who don’t want to walk three blocks to the arena aren’t going to change their minds,” he said. “Once you have tickets to an event you are going to go. You are going to find somewhere to park.”
Those in favour of Innova Park haven’t been quiet either.
Advocates for that site started their own Facebook page about a week ago called Citizens for an Innova Park Multiplex.
The page has more than 460 members so far.
Thunder Bay Mayor Keith Hobbs is a member of both groups, while councillors Andrew Foulds, Trevor Giertuga, Paul Pugh, Joseph Virdiramo and Aldo Ruberto are members exclusively to the downtown Port Arthur group.
But the page is just one of the ways advocates are spreading their message.
Ray Smith has taken his lobby efforts to the streets, and has handed out thousands of pamphlets in support of Innova Park.
Most of the reaction he has gotten has been positive, he said.
“We’re just trying to help the public express their opinions,” Smith said.
“Everywhere I go in town everybody says Innova Park. I just thought we should give them a little push for their cause and have Innova Park truly be represented as a site for this new multiplex whenever we can afford to build one.”
Smith said he would like to have a sign in Innova Park advertising the fact that the event centre should go there, but he added that the Fort William Gardens still had some life left in it.
He said the gardens could continue to host events for the city for at least another 10 years.
He added that they should wait until the taxpayers can afford the event centre before they go ahead and build it.
Innova Park is a more central location compared to the proposed North downtown site, and that’s what appeals to Smith. Four access points and the opportunity to develop property at no extra cost are also selling features of that location.
The decision of where the event centre will go rests on the shoulders of city council but Smith suggested the city should put the matter to a vote.
Whether Innova Park wins the event centre or not, Smith said he would be at least satisfied that he had a chance to vote on it.
“I think it would be well in the best interest of the city to have everybody put it to a vote,” he said. “Then we could all live with the decision.”
Consultants on the project will be bringing a report on their preferred site to city council in June.
Click here to submit a letter to the editor.