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THUNDER BAY -- News the north core location is the preferred site for a proposed multiplex has many Port Arthur business owners smiling.
The city released the long anticipated report showing consultants recommended the 5,700-seat facility should be placed somewhere in Port Arthur instead of Innova Park.
The Port Arthur site was said to be the preferred location because of the potential economic impact.
The news delighted Rooster’s Bistro owner Jim Commuzzi.
“We’ve been working on this as a (Waterfront) BIA for the last couple of years,” Commuzzi said.
“We’re elated. All along we very much felt that this was the location in order to drive the synergy of the businesses in the area that are taxpaying right now. We though putting it in an open field and hope people would build out there would be not the best way in handling taxpaying dollars.”
Downtown Port Arthur has started to change for the better from the waterfront development to the announcement of Delta Hotels and even the improvements to St. Paul Street. He said the multiplex would be the jewel in the crown.
One of the main complaints against putting the event centre downtown Port Arthur was the issue of parking.
Commuzzi said events such as the Blue Fest and Rib Fest both prove that the downtown can accommodate large crowds.
“I drove around and saw all the parking that was still available,” he said. “There won’t be any problem of access or exit because we have so many different ways of getting in and out.”
SHIFT President Nathan Lawrence said his group was in favour of a location that would provide the best economic benefit to businesses and was glad to hear that the north core location was believed to be that spot.
“At this point in time it’s nice to see the report done and that there is some firm, definite answers in terms of where that best location is,” Lawrence said.
“We have to make sure as a community that we’re leveraging our tax dollars as best as possible both now and in the future and making sure that facility is located to ensure we’re getting the best return.”
But not everyone was happy with the news.
Fred Gilbert and many others against the report’s recommendations voiced their disappoint via a Facebook page titled Citizens for an Innova Park Multiplex.
Gilbert states there was no question that the report was going to come back and recommend downtown Port Arthur after the announcement of the hotel.
“You get the results you want when you inform the consultants that’s where you want it to be in the end,” Gilbert said.
“I think the consultants did the best they could under the circumstances. Anyone who has any sympathy for the long term development of this city I think would recognize the north core development is not going to hinge on the multiplex. Council and administration had made a commitment to the hotel that there would be a conference centre close at hand.”
He said the reason why the city didn’t put the project up as a plebiscite was because most residents wanted it at Innova Park.
Although disappointed, he added he hoped to see the project move forward because no matter where it ends up Thunder Bay needs a new facility.
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