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2013-01-09 at 17:32

Conservatory could be partially opened by February

By Jeff Labine,
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THUNDER BAY -- The Centennial Botanical Conservatory could be partially open by February.

The conservatory on Dease Street closed over concerns of falling glass in February last year. City council decided the facility could partially reopen if a safety net was put in place. City infrastructure manager Darrell Matson said the city has already gone to the marketplace for quotes for a contractor to start installing the net.

The installation of the net will take about three weeks. Matson estimated the cost to be around $40,000, well below their $76,500 budget.

Administration had hoped to have the conservatory open before Christmas but those plans fell through. Matson said the delay was in part because they wanted to make sure they got a good deal but also because they outsourced the work.

“What residents will see when they come through the doors above their heads there will be a net,” Matson said.

“Administration needs to report on the operations at the conservatory and the greenhouse operations for the 2013 fiscal year. From 2013 to 2014, city administration needs to work on the long term components of the conservatory.”

Matson said operation costs and possibly study funds could be present in the 2013 budget. He believes that the city needs to make a decision on whether to demolish the building by the next growing season.

He said there’s a chance that by late 2013 the greenhouses could be demolished but there will be a plan in place to outsource it or put a new facility in its place.

Jamie Varga, spokesman for the Friends of the Conservatory Group, said there’s still people who are willing to keep the facility running. Varga doubted the city’s claims of the falling glass but was glad to hear council wanted to keep it open.

“My aspect of it was more scrutinizing of council and their actions towards public services,” he said.

“It ended up being closed and as soon as people started looking into it all of a sudden there’s this issue of falling glass that was never ever substantiated.”

Varga said he hopes that once the group gains more momentum they will be able to attract more people to the conservatory. He also wants a few things to change, such as having a donation box more visible to the public as well as a counter to find out how many people are visiting each a day.

There will also be more information and advertisement to attract more people to the conservatory.



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Blue says:
It's funny how when the city is forced to do something it comes in at less than they expected. However when they just go ahead with a project it comes in over budget.
1/9/2013 5:35:38 PM
nvjgu says:
Oh they outsourced the work because they wanted to get a good deal. Gees thats the same reason I outsource my shopping. Shop local they say LOL.
1/9/2013 6:37:13 PM
nvjgu says:
Thank god we have work crews from Winnipeg to come here.
1/9/2013 6:39:36 PM
hadenough says:
Just where in this article does it say anything about the work crews coming from Winnipeg?

The contractor is local.

Your commentary is idiotic.
1/10/2013 6:10:49 PM
chezhank says:
Good job to those who fought to keep this facility open.
It is the only way to get council and administration to listen!

1/9/2013 8:14:59 PM
The public has been without this facility long enough.
It was unfortunate to lose out on bringing seniors out to see the beautiful Easter flowers, then the fall display, then the amazing Christmas display.
It's the perfect place to take your kids, and your grandma, for a nice family outing. Not everyone can get away.
Nice that City Admin. saw fit to spend nearly $1000 for flowers for City Hall, so obviously they do appreciate the flowers, but just for them.
The greenhouses are needed to grow the plants to be in the displays, AND for all the parks!
Notice they didn't do the costing to prove it actually saves money for the City. Yes, it does, and provides good jobs, too.Rebuild where it is, if necessary.
Thank goodness for the money in "Renew Thunder Bay". Let's use it to get this facility open, and renew it to conserve energy!
1/9/2013 11:56:27 PM
varga says:
I think the comment about outsourcing the work was in reference to it being outside the scope of city workers not outside the city. The contractors on site were RML and they are local. Just something I came up with since seeing the trucks for myself.
1/10/2013 8:19:06 AM
Just sayin' says:
I have never even driven by the conservatory, it has to be located in the worst location. I've lived here for 2 years now, was unaware of it's existence or even seen the building for that matter. The City should relocate it to the waterfront where it could get some exposure rather than spending money in its existing spot. The city clearly has no idea how to market the asset either - so why have it in the first place?
1/10/2013 12:36:41 PM
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