Tbnewswatch Local News
Wednesday July 1 2015
11:14 AM EDT
2014-01-08 at 21:28

Public input

Members of the public tour Fort William Gardens on Wednesday night.
Leith Dunick, tbnewswatch.com
Members of the public tour Fort William Gardens on Wednesday night.
By Leith Dunick, tbnewswatch.com

The fate of Fort William Gardens was placed in the hands of the public on Wednesday night.

Though no decision on what, if anything, to do with the aging 63-year-old facility is imminent, city officials staged the first official open house to help make the decision should a $106.1-million event centre ultimately get the go-ahead from city council.

Reaction was mixed from residents who attended the evening session, held in the Gardens’ lobby.

Ron Kresack, president of Northwood Hockey, is worried any decision that leads to the ice being removed from Fort William Gardens would have a major impact in his organization’s ability to find enough ice time for its teams.

Unsure of whether or not the league would be welcomed at the new facility, Kresack wants assurances his players won’t be left out in the cold.

“Nobody’s asked me or told me or said what’s going to happen in the future if (the Gardens is closed),” said Kresack, one of about 70 people who took part in the open house.

“There’s been no discussion.”

Frustration with the process was clearly evident in his response.

“I think it’s a show. They’re here asking questions, but I think a lot of decisions have already been made by the looks of it. They spent a lot of money to do this, if they haven’t.”

Fort William Curling Club president Dave Kawahara was adamant he wants the Gardens to remain open in some shape or form, though not necessarily as a hockey rink.

“We feel the structure is quite sound to make that happen,” he said. “Our interest of course is to continue to operate as a curling club. Certainly if there’s any economic feasibility of renovations and so on of bringing businesses here, offices and so on, we certainly would promote that.”

Demolition is not an option, he added.

“That would have an impact on us,” Kawahara said.

Fellow curler Gordon Wywrock said he came to the open house out of curiosity, though he wondered what the future might hold for the club.

“Everybody played hockey here. We want to see what’s going to happen. It’s interesting what (the consultants’) thoughts are what that’s going to play into the curling club’s future,” Wywrock said.

Asked what he’d like to see done with the building, he said it’s a hard question to answer.

“There are so many options and they all involve money, either they’re losing money or they’re going to make money. You do not want to lose money on anything. You’d like to see something come in here that will help the city by making money. It’s all helping taxpayers ... Specifically, I’d be interested in whatever they had to offer, whatever they’re talking about. There’s lot of good ideas and there’s lots of people here.”

It was made abundantly clear that if the event centre goes ahead, the days of Fort William Gardens hosting concerts and spectator sporting events would come to an end.

“We don’t want this building to compete with an event centre,” said CEI Architecture’s Conrad Boychuk, whose company is also helping the city take the proposed event centre to shovel-ready stage in hopes of attracting provincial and federal funding.

That doesn’t mean it can’t still serve the community and play host to events like the annual south-side Remembrance Day service, graduations or the annual Folklore Festival.

“These are still relevant to the neighbourhood and to the community,” Boychuk said, cautioning people to think long-term, as the event centre is still years from becoming a reality.

“If anybody has an idea that we can start something here next year because there’s an opportunity, it’s not going to happen.”

PriceWaterhouseCooper’s Ron Bidulka, also consulting on the project, said any reconsideration, up to and including demolition of the facility, has to make financial sense for the city.

Their recommendation will take into consideration the greatest use and cost to the taxpayer, he said.

“We’re looking at functionality so it can be used for a whole bunch of different uses, not one or two user groups,” Bidulka said.

“We’re going to balance use, we’re going to balance cost and we’re going to balance the bottom line.”

The public was presented with four potential future use options, but the consultants, who plan to bring their findings to council in March, said they were only put forward as discussion points and no decisions have been made at this time.

More information about the project can be found here

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We've improved our comment system.
Eastender says:
Conker, you have certainly pointed out the facts. By your own admission, you say that my taxes have gone up, but its because of higher assessment, and the tax rate has not come down enough, "WHATEVER" my taxes have gone up. It doesnt matter how you use that sharp pencil, when you pay more, you pay more, and the city will spend it and then ask for more. There was potential for taxes to remain steady, but Hobbs was swept up by the fairy dust of being the hero who brought the multiplex to existence. His ego was bolstered at the expense of all who will now be stuck paying for this big empty box, not to mention other legacy projects. Embarassed? Why on earth would I be embarassed. It should be city councilors who voted for the big box who should be embarassed, but then, again, one must have a conscience to be embarassed.
1/11/2014 1:11:02 PM
Jon Powers says:
See You All At The Next Meeting!

Great Posts & Story!
1/10/2014 12:56:10 PM
working_man says:
@Eastender, Are you now even taking this as far as to imply that the current council might be corrupt?? as you say….like montreal?
Wow, thats quite a statement...
1/10/2014 12:32:15 AM
Eastender says:
You are dead wrong. The elected officials were not elected to make decisions for us wether we like it or not. They are elected to serve us, not dictate to us. Do you not understand this premise of democracy? I certainly hope you do not cast a ballot, since you hven't a clue what that ballot really means.

With your logic, an elected government could pass a law that does away with elections, and decides that they are in power for life. Would you then say, "well I guess we have to abide by that decision, cuzz, we elected them" ?

The public has every right, and indeed a responsibility, to criticize and, if necessary to demonstrate, and investigate public officials, if criminal or corrupt practices are suspected.

If it can happen in Montreal, it certainly can happen here.
1/9/2014 2:48:39 PM
fastball says:
Don't be ridiculous. You take a simple statement and extrapolate it to an absurd level.
If you don't like your elected officials' decision, you have every right to protest and make your opposition heard in a lawful manner. You also will have the right to vote them out of office next election day.
Find yourself a candidate that supports your position, and vote for them. Better still, run for office yourself and see how easy the running of a city must (obviously) be.
Until then, cool it with the hysterical hyperbole. "Dictating", indeed. Give me a break.
1/9/2014 4:38:46 PM
conker2012 says:
How wrong you are my friend, elected officials do not serve anyone, except if they held a second job at tim hortons or another service industry. Elected officials represent us.

Your idea that they can pass a law to make themselves king of the castle is not even remotely true. They have these things called the Municipal Act which defines city council powers. They must follow this Law. The upper levels of government must follow the Canadian Constitution. Both of these Laws must followed or charges can be brought against the official and laws have been thrown out as un-constitutional in our past.

Both of these Laws prevent the government from making themselves rulers for life without the people electing them on a regular recurring basis.

So I would advise you in the future to actually read the person's platform before you vote for anyone in the next election since they are your voice and your "vote" for a term of up to 4 years after that election.
1/9/2014 5:01:34 PM
Eastender says:
Your advice to read the persons platform before voting for a particular candidate is absolutely good advice. However as with Mr. Hobbes, he did campaign on the "no new tax increases", platform, yet during his tenure he did nothing to fulfill thst campaign promise. Should we just accept this transgression of trust blindly? What were the incentives for him to make this 180 degree change.
1/9/2014 6:21:08 PM
conker2012 says:
Really, is that want you think? Do you want to be embarrassed???

Well let me point out the FACTS, in 2009 before the mayor and current council was elected the residential tax rate was .01980760 since the mayor took office this rate has dropped every year except for one, today as it stands the current rate is lower than when the mayor took office at .01901627. ->>> here is my source : http://www.thunderbay.ca/AssetFactory.aspx?did=18435 .

The dollar amount you pay may increase, but this is due to the value of your property increasing at a faster than the tax rate is dropping. Having more equity in your home is a good thing in my books.
1/10/2014 8:39:49 AM
working_man says:
Why is it that when some don't agree with the direction or decisions that the council of the day is taking, they seem to think that demanding "REFEREDUM NOW!!!!!!!!!!!" is the way to go??
You don't just get to pick and choose when a referendum is required.... just because you don't get your way.... Remember, the "majority" of voters enabled the now elected officials to make those decisions for us. Like it or not.
1/9/2014 2:05:41 PM
bttnk says:
@ workingman - are you really asking the question? The answer is pretty simple. It isn't what they want so they are acting like spoiled brats. Or they are part of the "do nothing crowd" who want to avoid progress or any international attention as it may disrupt their current lifestyle. The good news is, the majority of Thunder Bay elected a council that is also sick and tired of these groups and is moving forward with the progress despite the backlash for a vocal minority.
1/9/2014 4:17:25 PM
Dockboy says:
DougMyers, we'll see.
1/9/2014 12:20:38 PM
Arch Stanton says:
Quote: "city officials staged the first official open house to help make the decision should a $106.1-million event centre ultimately get the go-ahead from city council."

DID ANY OF US VOTE FOR THIS????????????????

REFERENDUM NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
1/9/2014 10:26:13 AM
DougMyers says:
Perhaps not yet but you can at the next election, by choosing a candidate that is openly against the multiplex idea.

After that the whining and complaining from both sides needs to stop. Make your voice heard by voting and understand that the majority (of those willing to cast a vote) has spoken, whatever the outcome.

However to say you do not have a vote is incorrect.
1/9/2014 11:40:03 AM
bttnk says:
Regarding the FW Gardens. I was at the session yesterday evening and there was a lot of information discussed. Good information. Then, later that night, I played hockey at the Gardens and was reminded why this building is toast as far as hockey and spectator sports are concerned. The worst ice in the city and an embarassment. Blow it up or sell it off to the highest bidder.

The Event Centre is gettting closer to being shovel ready and I understand government funding is certain to be secured. The Waterfront Entertainment District is shaping up to be a cultural hub for our city and it is exciting for the progress generation, but troubling for the "do nothing" crowd.
1/9/2014 10:17:18 AM
The Badger Mountain Hermit says:
$106.1 million...lol...trying to make it sound like the bananas have it all figured out to the last dime??? Ya...right.
1/9/2014 9:38:23 AM
Slyder says:
First of al the Garden's does service the community's current needs. It's small. Secondly it's old. The cost of renovations over time are going to be huge. We don't need two arena's. There is plenty of other ice out there for Hockey, and knowing some curlers, PA can take on FW's members without issue. Why is this even a discussion. Why would we sink money into 2 arena's for a city with 100k people? It makes sence. Old building that cost alot to keep up, or don't meet the current service needs, need to be replaced. Tear it down. Sell the land, build a new facility, and push council to set up a reserve fund that deposits money in an intrest bearing account, for the next 70 years that will be used to repace the multiplex when it's time is done so the cost is spread over time rather then scrambling to find funding last minute.
1/9/2014 9:26:23 AM
progress now says:
Interesting quote:

“I think it’s a show. They’re here asking questions, but I think a lot of decisions have already been made by the looks of it. They spent a lot of money to do this, if they haven’t.”

To me this is at the core of it. This was not the city reaching out for input from the public. What we saw was a consultant paid to provide a public consultation component to a process that reserves decision making for non resident experts.

Sad really, because we could be so much better.

1/9/2014 8:51:58 AM
rob20 says:
There is no interest in what the public thinks. If there was the marina site would not have got OK'd due to the pressure against the site. Or a vote would have occurred to verify what the majority wants. City council pretends they are smarter than Joe Q Public and know whats best for the city but their track record of incompetence and ignorance is glaring. The only thing viable in the FWG is the curling rink but thats not enough to maintain the building. We need a new rink/event center, but not at the marina where it'll be the same congested mess the FWG is.
1/9/2014 9:21:37 AM
dockboy says:
Why are they getting the public's opinion involved at such an early stage? Because the decision to build this white elephant has already been made. As a taxpayer I want my vote as to say whether this multiplex becomes a reality. If we got to vote, the results would probably end up being 80% against and 20% for construction. If I were a member of city council, I'd be very concerned about my political future if this goes to fruitation.
1/9/2014 8:47:20 AM
DougMyers says:
I would certainly disagree with your "statistics"

My personaly feeling is that a small majority is in favour of a new multiplex while a small but very loud minority are against.

As for your concern for political futures, the public can have their say this year at the municipal election. Those against can support their candidates that openly state they are against this idea.

The public will have their say. However I think the loud minority will still be up in arms and toss out statistics like yours.
1/9/2014 9:51:52 AM
SMB says:
I think that the Thunderwolves and the North Stars should play on the plethora of outdoor rinks in the city. Old time hockey!
As for the north end getting all the "nice stuff"...it's cultural inertia. The ball is rolling in the north end, and will continue to roll. The south end has stagnated, and will continue to. It may suck for the people in the south end, but it is reality. Cities all over North America have seen declines in their downtowns for decades...and most of them only have one downtown. No way Thunder Bay can expect to have two thriving downtown cores. At some point, The City That Hates Change will have to stop complaining about decisions that were made in 1969, and start enjoying the city as it is now. Because there is a lot to enjoy here, if you would just stop griping.
1/9/2014 8:46:59 AM
fastball says:
Well..that was the stated "new direction" of Thunder Bay, wasn't it?
The south side would get the government, administrative and social services - and the north side would be more entertainment-based.
There's a bit of a hodgepodge down there right now...and that's probably not helping the downtown South Core find any kind of identity.
It'll take a few decades and administrations to finally see the finished product.
1/9/2014 10:01:15 AM
Cletus Van Damme says:
Here is a solution that will not only help reduce crime, but bring in revenue as well.

"Thunder Dome II" (Idea pilfered from the movie "Mad Max")

2 contestants will enter a gated ring, each allowed to bring a knife". This will keep the abnormal number of stabbings in Thunder Bay limited to a controlled environment, thus reducing random street crime.

In order to pay for heat and lighting costs, admission will be charged, just like it was in the Roman days of the Gladiator.

With the number of stabbings in this city, this proposal should generate a steady stream of income.

I shall send a complete implementation plan to city hall by the end of the week.

1/9/2014 8:29:44 AM
working_man says:
Has anyone actually read the report on the present day state of the structure? Does anyone know how much the facility costs the taxpayers each year now? Does anyone have any idea what the future costs would be to upgrade/retrofit/band-aid the Gardens should we not go forward with the new events centre? If we choose to not build new, how many more useful years do you think we can hope to get out of the Gardens before we're having this same discussion on again?
1/9/2014 8:06:54 AM
Tbayhabs33 says:
Can't wait for the new multiplex...all you winers can shut it finally and cry in your never ending debt
1/9/2014 7:53:21 AM
fastball says:
As much as sentimentality wants us to hang onto the Gardens - you can only slap so many Band-aids onto the place. It's well past it's best-before date, and its facilities are woefully inadequate. The dressing rooms are an embarrassments, the washrooms are insufficient, and the press box/media room is a joke.
As a sports facility - the Gardens has had its day.
If it's going to stay up, I'd suggest putting the farmers' market in there or something. The current farmers' market is very claustrophobic in its current location.

1/9/2014 7:40:19 AM
ring of fire dude says:
Enjoy the walk to the new Events Center .
1/9/2014 7:32:38 AM
gusto says:
And how far do you have to walk when you go to an event at the Gardens? Probably just about as far as you will have to walk to get to the new Event Center. Or hopefully you will just stay home where you can continue to spout nonsense from behind your computer in your parents basement.
1/9/2014 12:51:16 PM
p.o.ed taxpayer says:
"The fate of Fort William Gardens was placed in the hands of the public on Wednesday night."
Are you serious Leith??? This is just an orchestrated event which will be used later to create the illusion that the Public had their say. This entire event center issue is being driven by people with an agenda and the rest of the people will pick up the tab...There is more than enough evidence across Canada to show that these white elephants help a select few and are nothing more than a money pit...almost criminal when the proponents on council and the administration know going into this that it will bleed taxpayer money...
1/9/2014 7:20:21 AM
New Liberal Order says:
I'm sure our provincial Liberal candidates would be more than happy to help the city finance this multiplex! If you want to see this happen, folks, make sure you vote Liberal!
1/9/2014 4:02:16 AM
tiredofbull$ says:
Does anyone watch the news or sports in this city and see all the empty seats in the Gardens for the Thunderwolves or North Stars hockey games. Why do we need a new and larger multiplex when they barely have anyone in the stands now? All these people that are crying for a new multiplex should be out there filling up the stands now but they are not. The city should stop this foolish money spending on a new multiplex and let a private investor build one if there is truly the need for it.
1/8/2014 11:40:30 PM
timeforchange says:
the purpose of building a new arena is to replace one that is no longer suitable for sporting events. Exactly when did that take place.

This is a push to make the new centre seem inevitable.

If the building is going to stay up, why does it not stay up for hockey.
1/8/2014 11:37:37 PM
patti says:
BOTTOM LINE it has to make **financial sense** to the city.
The past is the past folks.
Can't wait till they take the wrecking ball to it !!!
1/8/2014 10:47:10 PM
ProfessorGlo says:
"Can't wait till they take the wrecking ball to it !!!" ... I have some very fond memories my Grandfather has shared with me of when he helped build the Gardens as a construction worker all those years ago ... When I discussed this with him ... He laughed and told me, there is so much concrete and steel in each of the pillars holding the building together (not even mentioning how deep they each go down below the structure), the only thing taking that place down is TNT.
1/9/2014 12:03:43 AM
patti says:
Glo, HAHA They don't build them like they used to, that's for sure!!

Thought you might like this blurb from wikipedia in regards to the demo of the old Winnipeg arena ~

"The City of Winnipeg took on the $1.45 million expense of demolishing the vacant arena. After the building was gutted, final demolition took place on March 26, 2006. On that morning, hundreds of hockey fans gathered to watch the building fall, while chanting, "Go Jets, Go!" However, the planned implosion failed to bring the entire structure down. Construction vehicles later pulled down the rest of the structure. The vacant site was purchased by Ontrea Inc. for $3.6 million and used as a parking lot for Canad Inns Stadium across the street until construction of new retail and office space began in 2011. The new complex, known as Polo North, opened in 2013."

see a pattern here ??
1/9/2014 8:21:36 AM
unknowncronik says:
hahahahahahahah, if they already know the cost of the events centre, then it sounds like city hall already has the location picked out & the blueprints drying READY to go!!!
1/8/2014 10:44:36 PM
S Duncan says:
If this ridiculous waste of money new multiplex somehow gets crammed down our throats then the only logical thing to do for be for the city to sell the gardens to the highest bidder and that person can do whatever they want with it.

If they don't want the gardens, sell it. Use the money to help fund the idiotic north core mess.

In fact it should be sold first so they have that money as a downpayment for a new place. Its the only financially logical thing to do... aside from not building another disaster in the first place.
1/8/2014 10:36:51 PM
sky high says:
Sounds like someone is waving the white flag and admitting that the Events Centre is going to be built! You've come along way from being the long-haired hippy who got up at the meeting a couple of years ago at the auditorium and awkwardly claimed that there wasn't enough parking in the downtown north core to support a multiplex to your present state, TimBob. Congratulations, we're breaking you! And I'll bet that if your lookalike Willie Nelson ever comes here, you'll be scrambling for front row tickets
1/9/2014 8:04:25 AM
S Duncan says:
You definitely have the wrong guy. I don't have and never had long hair.

As for waving the white flag, youre wrong again. The funding isn't there. Its not going to be there.

Unless youre willing to pay for it? Since youre so much in favour of this idiocy, why don't you go start a collection. You'll see how much support it really has. Stand outside Can Tire on a Saturday and hold your hand out. Form an organization. Call it the handouts for skyhigh projects.

I certainly wont be buying tickets anything hockey related. In fact I'll probably be leaving the city to live in an outlying township. I can come use all the things the stupid taxpayers are paying for.. without paying for them.

Either way, you lose. The taxpayers lose. and the biggest loser of all, the City of Thunder Bay.
1/9/2014 9:44:21 AM
tbay99 says:
Demolition is not an option, he added.

“That would have an impact on us,” Kawahara said.

Wrong Mr.Kawahara, the city is not your bottomless money pit! Just because it is effects your business does not mean the taxpayers should be on the hook for it. The Gardens are already costing millions to run, throw on the cost of a new events center and it is financially unsustainable.

If the events center goes ahead demo the Gardens or privatize the building. And yes I expressed this at the meeting tonight.
1/8/2014 9:57:20 PM
musicferret says:
The final nail in the coffin is almost in and this side of the city will continue its long decline.

Every last vestige of culture and recreation will be moved out of the south side of the city and it will be allowed to crumble to dust.

All funding, all events, anything nice MUST be on the north side of town.
I wish people in the rest of the city would stop to think for a minute about how they would feel if they lived on the south side.

And please don't suggest that the south side got the court house and social services buildings, so they are not being ignored. Laughable.
1/8/2014 9:51:37 PM
gusto says:
Good riddance. There's a reason everything is moving to the north side. Because the south is a cesspool of crime and poverty. They only put the courthouse there so it's closer for the criminals to get to.
Can't wait for that eyesore of an arena to knocked over.
1/9/2014 8:20:44 AM
Waldo Lydecker says:
If the project has to make financial sense for the city, and its all about the bottom line...

then the obvious answer is to leave the Gardens alone and drop this stupid idea of building a multi plex facility that will lose $1 million annually.

The Gardens is only 63 years old. For a building of that type, it is extremely young. It is structurally sound and in good shape. The whole push to get rid of it isn't for good reason at all. Its for the same reason bars continually remodel. Its to feel fresh and to try and attract business.

The city has no business trying to be in business, especially when they are trying to use our tax money to build and operate this, all to the tune of a substantial projected loss, a loss equivalent to 10 Municipal Golf Courses that the city chose to close down.

So, whats the real goal here? Who is trying to get the poor taxpayer to fund their dreams? and is there not a law against such misuse of taxes?
1/8/2014 9:51:05 PM
humnchuck says:
Not sure I'd consider the Gardens to be "extremely young"; using the 20 current OHL rinks as a point of comparison, only 5 are as old as the Gardens and most of those have seen some pretty extensive renovations. A majority are actually much younger. None of the 17 Canadian teams in the WHL play in anything remotely as old.

It's an old, worn building. How long do you keep sinking money into it before moving on?
1/9/2014 12:18:17 AM
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