Tbnewswatch Local News
Wednesday July 1 2015
12:50 AM EDT
2014-01-22 at 15:10

Investment questions

MPP Michael Gravelle (Lib., Thunder Bay - Superior North)
Leith Dunick, tbnewswatch.com
MPP Michael Gravelle (Lib., Thunder Bay - Superior North)
By Leith Dunick, tbnewswatch.com

A pair of local politicians each support the idea of an event centre in Thunder Bay, but say it’s too early in the process to know if there’s money at the federal and provincial levels to pay for it.

Northern Development and Mines Minister Michael Gravelle  and NDP MP John Rafferty on Wednesday said the $106.1-million proposal would be great for both the city and the region, but until the project is taken to the next stage, it’s hard for either level of government to commit any money to the plan.

On Tuesday the city announced it had reached a deal to sign a letter of intent with Thunder Bay Live, a group headed by former NHL coach Gary Green, to develop the event centre and take it to shovel-ready status and beyond.

The deal includes a commitment on the part of True North Sports and Entertainment to move their American Hockey League affiliate from St. John’s, N.L. to Thunder Bay, a decision that took the hockey world by storm from coast to coast.

Gravelle, who said he’s been a big supporter of the event centre from the very beginning, plans to work closely with the city to get it to the next stages.

“I know there is indeed a need for the province and the federal government to be supportive in order for the project to go forward and there are a number of steps moving forward,” Gravelle said ahead of Lyn McLeod’s keynote speech at the women in politics forum.

“What I can say, without getting myself in too much trouble is that indeed we’re working on trying to help the municipality of the City of Thunder Bay trying to get to that next step, particularly now that this great announcement has taken place in terms of the consortium.”

However, the minister wasn’t sure exactly what pot of provincial dollars the money, expected to be in the $35-million range, would come from.

“There’s no program that’s specifically in place in terms of an infrastructure program,” he said. “In the past we’ve had Build Canada programs where there have been shared cost funding, a third, a third, a third.”

He went on to say there are federal programs that might apply, but did note the province has made a $35-billion commitment to infrastructure across Ontario over the next three years.

“There are programs from the federal government level the city can apply to. We’re just trying to find a way to work together,” said Gravelle, adding he’s committed to making it happen and making sure it stays front and centre at Queen’s Park when the time comes.

Rafferty, who represents Thunder Bay-Rainy River in the House of Commons, said the event centre was a main topic of conversation Wednesday morning between Mayor Keith Hobbs and NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair during the latter’s brief visit to the city.

While the Opposition leader wouldn’t make any promises, Rafferty said Mulcair is willing to listen further.

Rafferty said he sees his own role as being a supporter of the direction taken by the city’s elected officials.

“The mayor and council, if they want to push something like the event centre, I see it as my job to support them in that endeavour and to try to make that happen,” Rafferty said.

Hobbs said Tuesday he’s spoken to Conservative MP Greg Rickford and was told the Kenora representative supports the project. Hobbs also said he expects both the federal and provincial governments will have more to say about any commitment they might make to the project in the coming months.

Dougall Media attempted to contact Rickford for comment for this story, but he was not available.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper in the past has said Ottawa will not support funding for arenas designed specifically for professional sports, and backed away from giving money to build an NHL-calibre facility in Quebec City.

Local officials have said they believe the Thunder Bay project, which includes 50,000 square feet of convention centre space, does not equate to the Quebec project.



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We've improved our comment system.
Thor Odinson says:
Everyone wants a plebiscite when it's something they disagree with. When someone else disagrees, they tell them to suck it up and deal with the results of representative democracy. How about we all just deal with the decisions of the people we the citizens elected, whether we voted for them or not? This isn't a direct democracy, people. That isn't the system we have. If that's what you want, I suggest you run for such a position as would allow you to change our system to one of direct democracy.
1/24/2014 10:15:21 PM
The Badger Mountain Hermit says:
Wouldn't it make more Thunder Bay-style sense to build a SPACEPORT??? Think of all the exciting satellite rocket launches we could watch! Think of all the tourists that would be guaranteed to come!
1/24/2014 12:27:56 PM
bttnk says:
While we are at it, let's have a plebiscite on the following:

- What to do with FW Gardens
- Each roads project that exceeds $500,000
- Each new hire at City Hall
- If and where bike lanes are constructed in the city
- Locations of public restrooms throughout the city
1/23/2014 4:39:07 PM
musicferret says:

Yes, we elect representatives and they are meant to do what their constituents ask; but there is considerable precedent for plebiscites on this type of large scale expenditure. $100m+ ongoing annual cost.....thats HUGE money and it should be run directly past the citizens.

I'm finding about 50/50 online are for/opposed..... given that it seems that younger people are more 'for' this development and that the online crowd is typically younger on average, that would suggest a minority are actually opposed.

No way to prove either way, but thats what I see and hear around town.

Regardless, plebiscite. Its the right move. And no plebiscite until we have all provincial and federal money in place and have a full accounting of the deals being struck, cost sharing structure and tenant deals with whatever AHL group. We've all seen how quick an AHL team can lift up and leave....
1/23/2014 2:18:28 PM
sky high says:
Ok plebiscite, but not on the taxpayers dime. The small minority of cane-shakers that don't want this multiplex must pay for the plebiscite. What a terrible waste of funds it would be if taxpayers had to pay for this, seeing as we all know which side would win
1/23/2014 5:17:40 PM
Duncan S says:
The arena is a great idea and those opposed are free to move to a non arena/AHL city.
1/23/2014 10:01:55 AM
S Duncan says:
Those opposed to Thunder Bay with its current arena are free to move to a city that has one.

Its not the cities taxpayers duty to conform to you.

Pack your bags.
1/23/2014 10:31:26 AM
ibrando says:
@ Duncan S
What an idiotic statement to make. The majority of taxpayers oppose the event center and that can be easily shown with a vote. So a majority of the taxpayers should move? Why haven't you moved to a city with an arena and an AHL franchise if you think Thunder Bay sucks? What is keeping you here?
1/23/2014 10:48:09 AM
bttnk says:
@ibrando - Your statement is nearly as idiotic. You have no proof to suggest that the majority of taxpayers don't want an event centre. I don't either. What I can say is in my social group of approximately 50 working professionals in the 30-45 years old category there is not a single person that is opposed to the event centre. Not one. I would go so far as to suggest that it is once again a vocal minority that opposes the event centre, just has been the case for the past several decades with any growth proposition in this city.

As an aside comment. Mr. Gravelle was being very cautious with his comments so as not to put the cart before the horse, but he knows full well that the goverment is going to provide funding for this event centre. This is happening and it won't be long now.
1/23/2014 11:52:26 AM
ibrando says:
By referencing a "social group of working professionals" it is supposed to make you seem more important and correct? Who cares about your 50 buddies? Support or lack of, can be easily established by a vote. BTW I fit your category, so I too should support this financial disaster? People that are against the event center still want to see this city move forward and advance but the big difference is they want to see it done in a fiscally responsible manner without over burdening the taxpaying citizens.
1/23/2014 1:25:14 PM
DougMyers says:
I would respectfully suggest that your opinion does not represent the majority.

I certainly hope it does go to a vote so that it can finally be set out one way or the other.

FWIW, I believe you are wrong and that only a loud minority are opposed to the new multiplex. I would not say that a large majority are in favour, I think a large number are indifferent. However I think the yes vote would prevail.
1/23/2014 1:00:55 PM
anvil of crom says:
I think pinning this event centre on AHL hockey is a big mistake. A dummy can figure out that other then having a team in the building how does this AHL team fun this expensive arena?
I fund it and so does the taxpayer!! my spouse, my mother and most if not all of my friends do not watch live local hockey. If they do its the big leagues on TV.
I do other sports which I have to fund on my own with no federal, provincial or municipal help..
...we need a plebiscite on this!! with the REAL COSTS.
its NO MYSTERY the Fed and Prov governments are BROKE!!
they wont fund this.

1/23/2014 12:15:10 PM
NewAgeOutlaw says:
get ready for the AHL buddy, its coming and we cant wait. I will buy you a beer at the season opened
1/23/2014 1:16:27 PM
Eastender says:
We're working on it.

Moving forward.

Getting to the next step.

My job to support them.

More to say about commitment

Willing to listen further



Could likely happen.

(Translation-NO MONEY FOR YOU!)

1/23/2014 9:28:53 AM
ou812 says:
Instead of giving 66 million to the palastinians, why doesn't harper invest it in his own country?
1/23/2014 9:19:43 AM
NewAgeOutlaw says:
This new event center will be the best thing that will happen to this city in the last 10 years, it was long overdue. Having an AHL team will bring Thunder Bay into the"current" instead of constantly being in the stone age. Not to mention much needed revenues for hotels, restaurants etc.

And the last thing i wont be thinking about is season tickets, sign me up now!!
1/23/2014 8:49:48 AM
rob20 says:
Don't you smell it coming? The "well maybe the City of Thunder Bay can float a greater portion of the investment to make this a reality" pitch coming. I do.
1/23/2014 8:08:10 AM
damanisback says:
your gonna be paying $6 grand a year in taxes anyways with or with out an events centre. at least we'll be able to watch some decent hockey fights for the money
1/22/2014 9:20:02 PM
CM Punk says:
Never mind asking for money for arenas.
This should strictly be a private sector investment.
How about monies for the regional hospital so more beds can be created.
Next time you or a loved one are in the ER with a serious health issue and are in the crowded halls of the ER waiting, waiting, waiting, and waiting, the last thing you will be thinking about are season tickets for an AHL team.
1/22/2014 6:30:34 PM
smartguy83 says:
We have private industry in Thunder Bay? Any private company is either too small or not in a financial position to be paying for our arena's. Unfortunately for private sector companies when they can't pay their debts they are shut down. Municipalities are "allowed" to be fiscally irresponsible.

I am all for the event centre. Let's get the ball rolling. Can't wait to watch some good hockey.
1/23/2014 10:16:58 AM
S Duncan says:
municipalities want to function like a corporation so they can justify their investments and cronyism.

but they wont accept the financial responsibility of a corporation. That's why councils and city managers are nothing but big failures in the corporate world.

how about you find a way for the new hockey rink to be financially responsible? Do that and Im all for it.
1/23/2014 12:02:43 PM
sky high says:
Repunzel, you keep calling it a hockey rink. That's what we call an outdoor ice surface, like at the Carrick or Volunteer Pool. The Events Centre is going to be concerts (I can hardly wait) conferences, circuses, fairs, and yes....beloved hockey, which is Thunder Bay culture. And when it is built we want you to keep your miserable self far far away from it. No picketing outside with your long hair
1/23/2014 5:10:36 PM
mikevirtanen1961 says:
We could have a hospital with a million beds and be in the exact same situation if the Province is unwilling to fund staff for them.
1/23/2014 12:43:07 PM
tiredofit says:
Does anyone not remember the FEDS clearly stated they WOULD NOT provide investment for local hockey rinks? The Province can promise all they want, their's an election in the air and if they lose? Well your back to square one. If by chance the FEDS agree in part to provide some funding, there's an election in 2015 which could see that fly out the window.

To many IF's and "would love to but" to get this off the ground. As I've said before, show us how this will not impact our property taxes and I'll give it 100% support. However when reality kicks in, we will be burden with this for decades to come. If they are so sure it's on everyone's want list in this town, simply put it on the election ballot this fall, it's not that difficult and pretty easy to tabulate. Is it that hard? No, but the politicians are scared of what may transpire... but what do I know.... once a NIMBY always a NIMBY!
1/22/2014 5:39:57 PM
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