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2013-12-18 at NOON

Tear it down?

By Jamie Smith,
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Tear it down, or build it back up? Which is the cheaper option?

Those are the questions now hovering over the Fort William Gardens and they’re questions CEI Architecture is looking to answer over the next several months as it prepares a report on the future use of the 62-year-old facility.

The $130,000 study is part of the third phase of the events centre feasibility study.

"It's a pretty important piece in terms of the events centre project," CEI's Conrad Boychuck said.

The study, which will include several public open houses, will look at everything from demolition to changing the type of events held at the Gardens. Boychuck said that could include anything from basketball to a farmer's market.

Taking out some of the seating could open the space up to 40,000 square feet. He believes the community could use that space.

"I don't think a lot of people understand or appreciate just how big the floor area is," he said.

"There's a lot more life in this building and we need to know what that might look like."

Facilities, fleet and transit general manager Michael Smith said the gardens cost the city around $600,000 a year and needs around $1 million on top of that over the next three years. There's also the question of what would be done with the Fort William Curling Club.

Smith said the report, which will come to city council in early March, will have the answers and recommendations.

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keiths31 says:
I saw someone suggest making it into retail space, like they did with the Maple Leaf Gardens. Then take the roof off of Victoriaville over Victoria Avenue and move those retailers to the Gardens. I like that idea.

It does two things. It will create some new retail space (or office space, condos, etc) and open up the main street downtown for proper flow again. Something to consider...
12/18/2013 12:15:53 PM
conker2012 says:
I like your idea, but I would suggest a small change. Instead of opening up victoriaville to traffic, limit it to buses and cab traffic only and make it the new bus terminal (similar to Nicolette mall in Minneapolis). The north/south routes could remain closed to traffic but should be opened to the air as a urban park/pedestrian route from the parking complex to the court house.
12/18/2013 5:41:46 PM
keiths31 says:
That is even a better idea. Nicolette Mall is a great place.
12/19/2013 10:07:27 AM
unknowncronik says:
I like the idea of the Nicolette Mall...
could work out nice!!

BTW: Heard rumors of a CASINO soon to be built on the reserve....unsure if it's true, but??
12/19/2013 7:16:53 PM
The Badger Mountain Hermit says:
Notice the current GLUT of empty retail space already?
12/19/2013 9:17:00 AM
keiths31 says:
Yes. Just like there used to be when Keskus was still around. City got rid of Keskus and the north side downtown started turning the corner. Same could happen on the South Side. Be positive!
12/19/2013 10:08:49 AM
Tbay99 says:
So let me get this straight. The city is going to run the "multiplex" AND the gardens which currently loses 600,000+ a year. When will the voices of sanity ever speak up, STOP WASTING MONEY!
12/18/2013 12:20:49 PM
tiredofit says:
let's not forget they will also run the auditorium in addition to the proposed multiplex and this.... why? because council seems to thing we have an endless supply of cash on hand. Tear it down, let the TWolves play somewhere else for while, hell, LU seems to have money and space, perhaps they should build a rink on their grounds!
12/18/2013 1:40:12 PM
Tachyion says:
Actually council ( Municipal government ), like any form of government, does have an endless supply of cash...." the Taxpayer". Try not paying your municipal taxes, and see what happens to your property.
12/18/2013 10:55:00 PM
progress now says:
Forgive me - but you ARE a sane voice and you ARE speaking up.

Are there enough people listening?

Maybe we need to create a new election slogan.


Anybody But Current Council.

12/18/2013 7:24:44 PM
Chaos says:
Why is CEI deciding what to do with the gardens when they are the same outfit planning the phase 2 of the event centre + already deciding for us where it is to be built.....don't you think its time to get a more objective view?

Do we really need to hire a vancouver outfit (yeah I know CB grew up here but really)to shell game the fact the multi-plex is a done deal and already decided by special interests who are already panhandling province and feds for their share and will debenture the rest so that they can get another plaque built with their name on it, but pretend the idea originated via "consultation" with the citizens? It's upsetting when the outcome is already decided and the dog and pony show comes to town and convinces us that this is what we want!!! I sure hope we have nothing decided that can't be reversed by an election....god willing by then more fiscally responsible leadership will emerge.
12/18/2013 1:04:13 PM
advocate says:
Not sure what the issue is here. When you get a feasibility study, you do not pay them to make a recommendation for or against. You pay them to make the best recommendation. They could turn around and say that the Gardens should stay and that we should not build a multiplex (though, that would be a silly decision).

I think it makes sense that the one looking at the Multiplex looks at this issue. This is not a one off facility. One could be dependent on the other, and thus a coordinated approach is best.
12/18/2013 2:10:56 PM
Today1 says:
An election solves nothing. Follow the money.
12/18/2013 9:06:37 PM
Toonder Bay says:
Gut it and make it into an IMAX theatre.
The Fort William Curling Club can still remain.
Please don't tear down the gardens.
Too many good memories there...I meet Gordie Howe at the Gardens once.
So many more memories too…A local consultant would understand demolishing that building would be a shame and shouldn’t be considered...regardless of politics.
Whatever happened to hiring local consultants who know this city?…instead of sending our money west.
Isn’t it enough that CEI is handed the event centre, now they get handed a pricey $ 130,000 feasibility study too.
If they end up putting an IMAX theatre in there…I want $130,000 from the city handed to me…lol
12/18/2013 1:53:53 PM
unknowncronik says:
make the restore happy & donate the entire building to them, then demolish it. With the courthouse right down the street, your looking at prime real estate for the city....use it!

Build a new arena on the OUTSKIRTS of town to avoid ALL parking issues etc.

I'm just curious when the "SAVE THE FT. WILLIAM GARDENS" folks will be coming out of the woodwork...
12/18/2013 1:55:44 PM
Glyder says:
Come on, you KNOW they are going to call themselves "Friends of Fort William Gardens".

12/18/2013 3:11:03 PM
Bigtime says:
Ahh you beat me to it! lol
Other possible names:
Friends of Southcore
Friends of a Crime Riddled Neighborhood
Friends of THE PAST
Friends of "Don't change a thing"
Friends of Shaking a Cane at City Hall
12/19/2013 9:02:43 AM
Dockboy says:
As far as I can see, it's pretty simple. The garden's should remain the home of the Thunderwolves and host events too large for the auditorium. In other words " We can't afford a multiplex at this time."
12/18/2013 2:00:10 PM
The Badger Mountain Hermit says:
First they say its no good, its falling, the building is ok... it doesn't sound like someone isn't quite telling the truth. Obviously, the building is still fine. Con-job?
12/18/2013 2:19:28 PM
tbay87 says:
That was my thought as well. I don't know if anyone has ever officially said the Gardens is falling apart or not, but it's certainly the impression I've picked up. If the building is in good shape, is a replacement really needed? The Gardens is far from state of the art and perhaps slightly undersized, but overall it serves its purpose well enough, plus has a lot of character and history.

And please don't use the OHL/AHL/whatever or pipe-dream or unnecessary events center to justify a multiplex. Go forward assuming the Thunderwolves will be the principal tenant and be honest about the Gardens condition: then let people form an opinion.
12/18/2013 2:42:05 PM
unknowncronik says:
"First they say its no good, its falling, the building is ok"

->haha, the city has you where they want you!!!
12/18/2013 8:00:11 PM
sky high says:
The problem with you cane-shakers is that you've never even been to the Fort William Gardens to see how dilapidated it is. Nor have you travelled to other cities to see how beautiful their new venues are. All you want is a pothole free road system, and more social housing. Come on, give us a break.
12/19/2013 10:16:24 AM
sky high says:
I can hear the fat lady singing loud.....adious Fort William Gardens, great memories but time for you to be laid to rest. Bring on the Events Centre!!!!!!
12/18/2013 2:24:23 PM
zeppelin says:
If they can convert it into something that will generate enough money to warrant keeping it, and still be able to have an events center too, then by all means keep it, if not tear that mother down. If we can't have both the FWG and the new events center, wouldn't we rather have a new events center? We can still do all of the same things that we do at the FWG AND much more. Makes sense to me, hope that makes sense to the people making the decisions. I'm old enough to have fond memories @ the gardens, but I'm still definitely young enough to really want a new place that will bring in some really good entertainment & sports for years to come. I would rather them get rid of a landmark than miss out on seeing what a new events center will bring to the city.
12/18/2013 2:59:15 PM
working_man says:
Where have all the "we need more parking in the downtown south core" people gone??
12/18/2013 3:14:26 PM
unknowncronik says:
with the vic-ville parkade so close,
building another parkade would be just nuts.

im sure the thought of an "underground walkway" from vic-ville parkade to the new courthouse has crossed many a lawyers minds lately...but back to reality, cept for them lawyers
12/18/2013 8:08:10 PM
Reignmaker says:
What's the point anymore? There is no parking there and people will literally have to walk for over a kilometer to get to the game (it's crap to park there now to go to restaurants). People will continue to say that walking is good for you and that old people don't go to the games anyways.

Why bother arguing with the ignorance anymore. The City likes making silly decisions, what would intellectual thoughts matter now?

Hospital that's too small? Check
Future seniors home the same size as current ones being replaced? Check
Multi-plex that can't be accessed without hiking boots and setting up a base camp? Stay tuned.
12/19/2013 3:07:34 AM
fastball says:
Exaggerate much?
12/19/2013 12:55:44 PM
buzz says:
So the two decisions you site to show that City Council makes bad decisions were not even made by them. Those decisions were made by the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long Term Care.
As far as I know the Ministry of Health has nothing to do with the multiplex. Although the walk will make you healthier and cut down on healthcare costs, I see the conspiracy now.
12/19/2013 5:08:34 PM
hounddog says:
I think combining the two curling club into the gardens and expanding the curling rinks would be a great idea. As well have both skating clubs be housed there as well.
12/18/2013 3:43:10 PM
NorthernGuy says:
This is a prime example of how an arena with little to nothing surrounding it(bars, good food establisments, good shops, etc.) just can not survive.

Arena's need to be in hubs or downtown town cores with other establishments to compliment them. Area's just don't work when they are all by thenselves. Another example is ScotiaBank Place in Ottawa.
12/18/2013 3:44:16 PM
sky high says:
Thunder Bay is a unique place and you can't compare us to the Ottawa area. Face it, we're going to need a new venue anyway. And after we build our multiplex there WILL BE lots of other businesses opening up-and once the final announcement comes people will be lining up to be in that area. And right now, Downtown PA is as close to a 'hub' as we have.
12/18/2013 6:23:31 PM
fastball says:
Surely you jest!
Those people in nearby restaurants, bars and stores will take all the best parking spots - and you know what that means, don't you? The W-word. In winter. Uphill. Both ways. For minutes and minutes at a time.
That's just plain crazy talk, Mister.
12/18/2013 6:32:49 PM
progress now says:
What you say is the conventional wisdom and I won't dispute it, yet we go to the Gardens or the Auditorium in the evening often enough, and not once felt compelled to go to a curio shop or to a restaurant afterwards.

The fact that you suggest the south ward core as a non-core is telling. It is as the Mayor and some councillors observed a "ghetto". Rather than approach the problem head-on, administration, powered by council preferred to take advantage of the blight planners created to divert activity to the north core. We should really worry west Arthur street will go the same way. Are we blighting as much as we build?

Robbing Peter here to pay Paul.

Some planning. Some city building.

12/18/2013 7:18:19 PM
keiths31 says:
This has absolutely nothing to do with where the Gardens was built. It takes minutes to walk anywhere downtown Fort William from the Gardens.

The reason we are 'replacing' the Gardens is because we are being told it has outlived its usefulness. Not because it is a block or two from a restaurant.
12/18/2013 10:32:09 PM
joey joe joe jr. shabadoo says:
"Arena's need to be in hubs or downtown town cores"

LOL! How can you compare what Thunder Bay downtown needs compared to what a larger city has downtown?
Were on our own here & have so much extra land around us, why congest downtown & cause parking issues etc when it's not needed?
12/19/2013 7:25:16 AM
Cletus Van Damme says:
How about put a few million into renovations and open a massive methadone / needle facility and offer free 24 hour luxury shuttle from anywhere in town.

Dang, shouldn't have made that joke or the powers that be might actually put a proposal forward!
12/18/2013 4:05:24 PM
loring says:
they just built a covered outdoor rink in toronto could this become the same???
12/18/2013 4:39:46 PM
Gorgyporgie2 says:
Tear it down? no not until the city has finalized the financial details with both levels of senior governance and the private sector and the proposed Multiplex center is up and running. Then and only then should the city decided what to do with the Gardens. A feasibility study at this point is premature and frankly a waste of the tax payers money.
12/18/2013 5:32:54 PM
Tbayhabs33 says:
I cannot wait till the city builds the new event center so all you negative Nancy's can keep your mouth shut. This city is in desperate need of a pick me up an this event center in Downtown PA is exactly what we need. I understand most of the people against it are probably the lazy ones who sit at home an never go out but the majority of people in this city have a brain between their ears an know it's well worth it.
12/18/2013 6:27:15 PM
olive garden says:
how about indoor parking for the court house ,should be enough for all.
12/18/2013 7:06:56 PM
SomeGuy says:
Tear it down and put a long term seniors home there, or whatever beds we are needing to clear up the hospital.
12/18/2013 8:49:08 PM
outsider9 says:
While I would love a new arena to be built, you cannot build an event center without an anchor tenant. I'm sorry but LU isn't enough. FWG should be kept open for hockey until money/high level hockey gets secured for the new rink.
12/19/2013 8:19:40 AM
SMB says:
Let me gaze into my crystal ball and predict the future....
The city will pay big money for a consultant's report; the consultant will recommend tearing down the old building and replacing it with something up to date in an area where it will have greater economic impact; there will be a great hue and cry from the people of The City That Hates Change; Council will completely ignore the consultant's report and sink a lot of money into the building to keep it essentially the same.
Anyone remember the report that recommended demolishing the Complex? the Conservatory? Lyceum Theatre?
12/19/2013 9:06:50 AM
TimeForChange73 says:
When is the city going to wake up? Why do they want to dump $ into buildings when the one of the reasons people dont go is NO PARKING!!! Why do they want to build a new complex downtown when one of the main problems with the downtown area is there is NO PARKING? Are they planning on leveling half of the buildings downtown to make room for partking? Why doesnt the city let the people that pay the taxes decide what happens to buildings and where new buildings should be built? There is a nice prime area to build a new one in Innova park. There is more then enough room to build a new arena with a conference centre and even a hotel with on site parking so that you arent having to walk for blocks in the freezing cold and having to deal with the problem people in the area. This needs to be built somewhere central so both sides of the city can access and the problem people. Just think of the possibilities if we had a place like this.
12/19/2013 9:44:28 AM
jb says:
No parking? I work in the north core downtown, shop there and go to the bars/restaurants on the weekend. I haven't had a problem finding a parking spot yet. Maybe you should actually check it out instead of trying to pass off your bs in support of Innova
12/19/2013 2:44:46 PM
fastball says:
Seriously - are you still running with the "there's no parking anywhere in the North Core" argument?? Yes, Virginia - there's no giant parking lot conveniently next to the proposed facility, like most modern urban facilities - but again, like most modern urban facilities, there's lots of nearby on-street parking and lots of little parking lots in the area. Is there a giant lot next to the Gardens? No...I park someplace on Victoria or on some nearby street in the area. People have been doing that for decades now - and I can't recall hearing about any frozen corpses littering the streets after an event at the Gardens in January or February. Have we become delicate little flowers in the last 65 years? Maybe the city will set up a shuttle bus service from Intercity or the Auditorium - you could park there and jump on a bus for the 5-odd minute shuttle to the centre from there. It's about getting an entire district revitalized and hopping again - it's not purely about YOUR convenience.
12/19/2013 2:46:46 PM
The Ultimate Warrior says:

12/19/2013 9:57:43 AM
Dockboy says:
It's funny how this scenario is offered up to the public just when the new courthouse is about to be unveiled. The FW gardens will be torn down and made into a much needed parking lot for the new courthouse.
12/19/2013 10:26:32 AM
bttnk says:
I think the study will find that this building will cost way a lot to repair, but what will the costs be to tear it down? There is a large cost involved in that as well. The Gardens is barely feasible as a rink to host a University team. It is the worst ice in town by a long shot. The first priority is and will continue to be building an events centre in the waterfront district. I'm hearing that ground will be broken on that in Spring '15.
12/19/2013 12:41:25 PM
JAR says:
My question is for everyone who keeps complaining about parking around the Gardens and say they dont go there for no other reason than they cant get rock star parking. If you child/grandchild/niece/nephew etc want to go to the Shrine Circus or to a concert of a popular band that is playing at the Gardens, do you tell them no because you will have to walk a couple blocks?

Parking is not ideal and I attend functions there enough to agree to that, however a 5 minute walk is not going to stop me from attending them.
12/19/2013 12:44:11 PM
fastball says:
Could they not tear the Gardens down, expand the FW Curling club by a bit...and then use the rest of the space for parking?
12/19/2013 4:36:46 PM
Jim Halpert says:
Demolish it and move the giant curling stone down to the marina. Or, convert the building (which apparently is nearing the end of its lifespan as reported by city administration and high-paid consultants three years ago)into a giant conservatory / art gallery. Oh wait, there is talk of building that down at the marina.
12/19/2013 6:43:00 PM
Kam River says:
Administration has decided that the Gardens has to go. This council does what Admin tells them to do.
We do not need the Multiplex.
(1) It will take money away from the auditorium
(2) City Admin does not care they will just give it 1 million dollars instead of $750,000 They do not care neither does council
The mayor does what Timmy's tells him to do.
(3) The Gardens is just the right size for the Thunder Wolves. But Admin wants more employes which mean the get a raise for having more employees The Mayors Hobbs thinks it is great as he can have his name on the Multiplex.
(4) The cost of the auditorium $750,000 each year
(5) Cost of the New Art Gallery 1 million each year
(6)cost of the multiplex a million a year to operate
(7) The Gardens as a empty shell with out seats to ensure it fails and other million
Tell me were is the money coming from My taxes and Water bill I can not afford now.
12/19/2013 7:07:39 PM
brooky says:
I'm a blue collar worker that supports a family of 3, and I can afford to live here and pay my water bill and taxes. I'm not sure where your life went wrong but I hope things turn around soon for you. Having said that, bulldoze the gardens and let's get that new multiplex built. I'll pay my share, and have enough left over for my annual contributions to toys for tots, cancer foundation and the united way. If one of my charities helps you out some day, you're welcome.
12/20/2013 12:38:21 AM
drayton lad says:
FW curling club will go.Closed traffic to the Vic area will also bring the CLE over there.The CLE grounds will be sold and any vendors that use it now will be invited to use a renovated FW curling club at 1/2 the size than it exists now.Some added parking to the area as per a parkade could be built on the other 1/2 of FW curling club that could be delolished.Many options for that area to maximise the whole business area by sweet'n the core.
12/19/2013 9:16:30 PM
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