Tbnewswatch Local News
Thursday July 2 2015
12:35 PM EDT
2014-02-04 at 20:43

Costly option

CEI Architecture
Leith Dunick, tbnewswatch.com
CEI Architecture's Conrad Boychuk addresses the public in the Fort William Gardens lobby on Tuesday night.
By Leith Dunick, tbnewswatch.com

Tearing down Fort William Gardens would cost the city a net loss of at least $2.7 million.

Demolition of the 63-year-old facility was just one of several options presented Tuesday night to a small group of residents in attendance at an open house held by consultants charged with looking at the what to do with the facility if and when an event centre is built in Thunder Bay.

Demolition costs are estimated at $3 million, with the land valued at about $300,000.

Other options include removing the seating and renovating the building into a multi-purpose building with retractable bleachers, leaving some seats in place at the north end of the arena or taking out all seats and removing two sheets of ice at the adjacent Fort William Curling Club to create 40,000 square feet of usable space. All of the above involve permanently removing the ice surface.

Peter McLaughlin said he’s not sure another sports complex is the best use for the space.

“What I’m thinking is we’ve already got the Hanger, we’ve got the Thunderdome at the university. We’ve got the Sports Dome for soccer and basketball. So I’m wondering if we actually need one of those facilities,” McLaughlin said.

“I’m wondering if this property could be used for something other than sports.”

Though not convinced the majority of the public backs the proposed $106.1-million event centre – he said it should only be built if taxpayers make it clear they want it – should the Gardens be replaced as the city’s go-to event centre, he’d like to see the land used in a better way.

“For me, I don’t know if they’re looking at the right options for the building. But then again, it is a big giant barn, so you’re limited to what it could actually be converted to,” he said. “If we’re looking at demolition, then we’re looking at a lot of options, like a long-term health care facility.”

Costs for potential options have not been finalized, though the consultants said they expect to bring a report to council later this spring.

What was provided was what the Gardens costs taxpayers to operate each year.

PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Ron Bidulka said the rink brings in about $350,000 annually in revenue, against about $830,000 in operating expenses, not including capital expenditures. That’s a $480,000 loss. Combined the city’s other four rinks lose about $400,000 a year.

If the ice was left in, the gap would close a bit, but not much, if an event centre is built.

“That $480,000 could probably become $400,000 or $350,000,” Bidulka said.

CEI Architecture’s Conrad Boychuk led participants through a review of January’s first open house, explaining the options and what they might involve.

They’ve changed slightly over the past month, after listening to what the public’s suggestions, which were adamant a new use not cater to one or two user groups, but the community at large.

“While the Gardens is a spectator venue, a lot of people thought we need to have that not as a primary focus of the building,” Boychuk said.

“Nevertheless, wouldn’t it be good that when you needed it, there could be some seating. So today’s open house is going to show scenarios where there is some practical seating, recognizing that when you don’t need seating, the area under fixed seats is a waste of space, so the retractable seating deals quite nicely with that.”

The public also asked for a walking area around the current concourse to remain, an idea he said has staying power and could be incorporated into future plans. Other suggestions included an indoor dog park, a farmer’s market or a museum. They’ve kyboshed the possibility of ground-level parking inside the building and constructing a raised floor, for logistical reasons.

Losing the ice surface would likely mean a shortage in Thunder Bay, which Boychuk also addressed. His solution builds on the city’s own recreation plan, which has yet to be adopted. But rather than twinning ice pads at Delaney and Port Arthur arenas, he’s recommending another solution.

“What we’re ultimately going to be suggesting is what we should be doing is actually planning for a new twin pad, not the twinning of an existing single pad, because that’s not overly efficient. It’s costly,” he said, recommending the Delaney site.

The existing Delaney Arena would also be kept in operation under this plan.

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SomeGuy says:
Tear it down and build a facility to house senior citizens that are grid locking the hospital.
2/6/2014 6:29:00 PM
p.o.ed taxpayer says:
Was it not part of the Mayor's platform that he would let the People decide? If so then he should stick to that...
2/5/2014 3:57:20 PM
lake superior guy says:
I agree with fastball. Why is it when people in this city don't agree with a decision made by council, they start demanding a plebiscite. You made your decision when you voted for mayor and your counselor to represent you. Don't like a decision that was made by city council, contact your counselor and express your view to them. If you don't feel that they are representing you vote them out next election. Democracy doesn't mean that you get a vote on every issue, but that you have someone to represent your point of view. I shudder to think how this city would further stagnate if the coffee house regulars were in charge of making decisions here.
2/5/2014 2:49:28 PM
Harvey P. says:
How come no one has mentioned Roller Derby yet?
C'mon, it would be fun! ROLLER DERBY!!!

Actually the Farmers Market/Craft Market thing sounds like the best idea. The CLE is the worst place for it. Too congested.
2/5/2014 1:56:49 PM
p.o.ed taxpayer says:
fastball says:
Your condescending attitude sounds like Aldo talking...hire a consultant to support your view and then suggest it is the Gospel...
2/5/2014 1:04:57 PM
fastball says:
For those of us NOT wearing tin-foil hats, the practice of having out-of-town, impartial consulting firms conducting several studies and then considering the conclusions is not totally unheard of. Unless, of course, you consider the game rigged from the get-go...in which case, there's no use talking to you anyways.
I'm merely advocating that people get ALL the facts from the right sources before they take their speculations and opinions and start storming the Bastille.
Is asking for all the facts as the basis for an informed opinion considered condescending?
2/5/2014 3:39:29 PM
p.o.ed taxpayer says:
It is not impartial when you tell the consultants your preferred location prior to their study...If you want to get more facts search the other communities that were sold the same bill of goods... and none (with the possible exception of London, far greater draw base) are successful...each community is paying through the nose, yet it seems no one listens. They all work from the same playbook and use predominately the same consultants...I agree that these decisions should be based upon ALL of the facts...not just the convenient or preferred so-called facts...People like to suggest that there is no problem with all of this cities borrowing/debentures; and don't care about paying the bill until something comes up that they don't agree with.
2/5/2014 4:30:23 PM
fastball says:
Apparently the sentence that states "unless you consider the game rigged to begin with" appears to be valid.
A consulting firm gets paid for conducting the study - not on the results.
2/5/2014 8:32:03 PM
Eastender says:
So, a hundred and six million dollars plus is at stake, and you naively believe that there are no forces with special interests trying to sway this project in their favour? The smell comming from the hallowed halls of power is making everyone gag.

If anyone is wearing a tinfoil hat, it is you. This isn't Denmark, but something is definitely rotten.
2/7/2014 10:14:39 AM
fastball says:
For all the parrot-types here, who are constantly saying "plebecite"....could we maybe do something radical (for TBay anyways) and perhaps get all the FACTS so we actually know what we're talking about?
Maybe it's just me - but I prefer to let the financial experts with the City tell me what we can or can't afford at this time - rather than the Tim Horton's Morning Coffee Crew, armed with 1 percent fact and 99 percent opinion tell me what's what.
Let's see what our total financial obligation will be AFTER we determine how much money other parties are kicking in.
Then - armed with ACTUAL FACTS - we can see how much our tax bill will go up if this project is a go.
No offense to the Tim Horton Coffee Crew - I prefer to let professionals inform me what the real state of things are. You know...like, experts.
But hey - if you prefer to let Harvey J. Caneshaker diagnosis your cardiac condition - be my guest.
2/5/2014 11:51:17 AM
theendgame says:
The same financial experts from the city who got owned and taken to the woodshed by horizon wind.
2/5/2014 2:00:50 PM
S Duncan says:
Where do you think financial experts get their coffee?

Where does the public get their coffee?

Professionals are all around you. Inform yourself.
2/5/2014 5:19:23 PM
Eastender says:
The real professionals are the ones who have to pay for the mistakes of the so called experts. By refering to people who are concerned by the steady increase in their taxes, as caneshakers, you are just showing your ignorance and crudeness. These people are single mothers, families living on minimum wage, families struggling to make mortgage and rent payments trying to keep food on the table, and decent clothing for their kids, yes and there are some people with physical disabilities who do require canes, and could use some tax relief. The last thing on their minds is a hockey rink, and another concert hall.
It is you that keeps parroting the same old tired cliches about cane shakers and pothole fixers. You dont seem to have any real arguments to make in favor of your superficial need for an event centr, other than the constant whining and head banging that you do on this site. Either come up with some constructive comments if indeed you are able to , or give us a break.
2/7/2014 3:13:17 AM
musicferret says:
Plebiscite on the events centre. NOW. Needs vs. wants.

Also, can anyone remember when the discussion moved from a nice hockey arena (cost $50m or so in other communities of similar size) to an events centre at $106+ million? Who came up with that little switch?
2/5/2014 11:15:16 AM
caesarjbasquitti says:
Fuzzy Logic explained ?

This dates back to the story of Adam and Eve. How you may ask.

Well it goes like this. In the story, after the devil deceives Eve, and she takes of the tree of knowledge and shares it with Adam, they realize they are naked so they first make clothes for themselves and then they hide.

Well Adam hears God and so he hides. God asks him "Where are you Adam" (of course God knows where he is, the question is rhetorical)

Adam responds, "We knew we were naked so we hid..."

God knows something is wrong and asks Adam, "Who told you were naked ? Did you take of the tree of knowedge.."

Well we can interpret this many ways, one is using the example to explain 'fuzzy or false logic' based on a truth with a false conclusion.

The answer Adam provided God, "we knew we were naked...so we hid". May have been based on a truth, however good logic would suggest that you can't hide from God. The conclusion lacks integrity.

A new gardens? When? Where? Who? and Why?
2/5/2014 10:21:12 AM
back-in-the-bay says:
I was going to let your other outlandish and uneducated fictional opinions go, but this one is just so far out there I can't stop myself. You make nonsensical statements based on nonsensical pretend research that you yourself produced and subjectively concluded as fact. Your comment does not pertain to this story or reality in general. Aside from this, is it within the scope of possibilities that you would actually comment on topic and with some fact based opinion at any point? I still enjoy reading your cane-shaker, sheeple ramblings, but 3 big ones back to back here gets tedious...
2/5/2014 3:01:42 PM
Dan dan says:
It would be irresponsible and costly to renovate the gardens yet again. It's time to start building the new events center, and ignore the voices that want to keep Thunder Bay as a backwater town.
2/5/2014 10:11:30 AM
sensible says:
$3 million in demolition costs, losing $400,000 per year??? Why not give the Gardens to Habib and have him transform it. He has a great vision for this area, has the means and the sense to implement it (unlike council) and it will save the taxpayers the cost of doing anything with it.
2/5/2014 10:07:07 AM
festus says:
The city dose need a new events center. Turn The Gardens into something that can at least break even, not lose money like it dose not. A year round farmers market would be nice.
2/5/2014 9:18:41 AM
Common_sense1 says:
Sorry, we already have a successful year round farmers market at the CLE grounds.
2/5/2014 10:32:44 AM
fastball says:
Is it against the rules to possibly have a better farmers' market - you know, one where you could possibly turn around without knocking something over, or putting someone's eye out? One with a bit of elbow room...or outside areas for additional vendors?
2/5/2014 11:37:15 AM
common_sense1 says:
1) 40,000 sq feet is far more space than a farmers market would ever need.
2) there is no way a farmers market could afford to occupy that space, without ridiculous markup
3) there is even less parking there than at the CLE
2/5/2014 1:04:39 PM
SomeGuy says:
Given the sheer cost of heating and cooling the building I doubt it would come anywhere near to breaking even.

Considering it costs of $350,000 a year like stated in the article the building would need to generate at least $29,000 in fees per month just to break even. Using the Thunder Bay Country Market membership fees of $1,700 per year you would need 206 merchants in there just to make a penny.
2/5/2014 2:41:16 PM
fastball says:
Is there a point in there someplace?
Or are you merely sifting through several decades of history - selectively cherry-picking decisions that you don't agree with?
2/5/2014 9:12:06 AM
Grammy says:
Talk about putting the cart before the horse, this council is going ahead and doing things a little backwards. Not all of us want to have an event center why can't we have a vote on the event center. I for one do not support such a costly white elephant. Hockey teams come and go we the taxpayers are going to have to pay for these backward decisions. Put a new roof on the gardens and save a little bit of the Thunder Bay History. Leave the conference centers to the private hotels, I am sure they can do a much better job hosting and soliciting conferences than the city can.
2/5/2014 8:31:02 AM
Bigtime says:
"Why can't we have a vote on the Events Center"
You did, it was called the municipal election voting in council. Not everybody wanted the council that sits now....but MORE people did hence there current positions. Council voted collectively on an PROPOSED event centre, and again, majority ruled. Maybe your candidate did not win the election, and maybe your against the decisions the voted in council make....in a nutshell, Tough Cookies my friend.
P.S. Despite what S Duncan spews daily on tbnewswatch as if it is "factual", life in the REAL WORLD outside of tbnewswatch still goes on. But As long as he feels good thinking his opinion matters, then good on him.
2/5/2014 1:12:20 PM
SMB says:
The problem with this issue (and a lot of other municiple issues, and it's not just confined to Thunder Bay politics) is that the project managers and the politicians and the consultants all skip the critical step: faced with an issue, they jump right to "what are the options?". They skip the objective setting phase.
Instead of talking about whether the place should be repaired or torn down, or what it could be turned into, or what other purposes the building could be used for, or even how much any of this might cost, the FIRST thing they need to discuss is, what are the needs and objectives of the community, both in general and specifically for that area. If your principle objective is to be fiscally responsible and divest the city of some liability, then you can develop options to fit that model. If your objective is to have an ice surface so people can play their silly game, a differnt suite of options. Quit arguing end point til we know what the objectives are!
2/5/2014 8:18:01 AM
steveZ8420 says:
If the numbers in the article are accurate then why would we keep a facility that's losing $400,000/year? The space could be better used to build for essential services like a long-term care facility, walk-in clinic or even a development for local businesses. Look for ideas that could bring money in rather than waste on a a building that will be used even less than it is now once the new sports centre opens and become an architectural burden.
2/5/2014 8:13:05 AM
Chaos says:
Plebiscite please.

Can't afford 100 million right now. If you add all city debt with dssab and tbaytel we are 200 million in debt and rising with little to no population growth.
2/5/2014 7:56:42 AM
cazam says:
I wonder what a 3M$ renovation would look like?

how about a grocery store like maple leaf gardens or offices or mall?

why does it have to be all or nothing with this decision?
2/5/2014 7:38:52 AM
caesarjbasquitti says:

1. Victoriaville, closes mainstreet?

1. Old Fort, not built on original site, not in East End nor on the Mission Island ? Built on flood plane miles out?

2. Funding for infrastructure. City decides to build hockey arena at Nor Wester, miles out of town?

3. Large Government building built on small property after Historic Chronicle Building torn down. Demolition crews have hard time to bring it down. What was wrong with empty blocks on Cumberland Street?

4. Court House, moved to downtown Fort William ? What was wrong with expansion on Court Street location ?

5. Government authorizes new hospital to built on site at P.A. site, Cancer Clinic already there. No, extra 25 million for central location. P.A. facility torn down. Why ?

6. Magnus Theatre built as addition to Central School after condo deal falls through;This works!

7. Condo's built on waterfront, removing parking & parkland. Train station goes to developer. Skateboard park?

8. Moving Gardens to North?
2/5/2014 3:04:22 AM
tsb says:
When you actually talk to people you realize how minor the opinions of those who comment here really are, but I still find it frustrating to read them.
2/4/2014 11:21:17 PM
localdog says:
I think "insignificant" is more fitting. The opinions expressed on this site mean nothing to anyone out there in the real world.
2/5/2014 5:03:52 PM
ring of fire dude says:
"Shelter House South"
2/4/2014 10:44:41 PM
nvjgu says:
Nobody wants to pay to tear anything down. That's why this town looks so bad.
2/4/2014 10:30:30 PM
S Duncan says:
If the Gardens is "crumbling" and so old (50 is now old?) like we always hear about, how could it possibly cost that much to demo?

Because its solid concrete that is not crumbling nor is it in disrepair. A building of that type only needs a roof every so often and issues like electrical and hvac/mechanical repairs and upgrades done every decade at the earliest.

The obvious truth is we don't need to replace the Gardens for any logical reason now or in the next 50 years.

The Colliseum in Rome is still standing. The Gardens will last as long.

2/4/2014 10:07:30 PM
CM Punk says:
Hey yo Squits,
This city council reminds me of the WWE.
The WWE doesn't listen to the fans and think they are doing what is best for business by shoving Batista down everyone's neck.
City council is the same thing. I am sure they have already know what they will do are being a face with these public meetings.

Taxes will go up, irresponsible spending will continue, and the taxpayer will continue to be stuck in a vice.
2/4/2014 9:58:36 PM
caesarjbasquitti says:
The Gardens needs some renovations, the current conditions in this city to not merit rebuilding this in the northward, which in my opinion is a poor location, and poor reasons.

Seems all we are doing in this city, is tearing down older, well constructed building and rebuilding them.

Why was the government building built on the site of the Chronicle Journal building, a building that was a monument, and could have been used as an art museum, and the government builddng should have been built on a good city block.

McKellar, St. Josephs,F.W.C.I.,and P.A.C.I. was saved.
(why were these two classic small schools closed, and then another big box school built ?)
Port Arthur General, was torn down ?

The capital costs to this rink are very, very low, building a new building will see huge losses for the first 25 years.

Don't have the big boat pier at the waterfront, that was pushed back to stage 5.

Time to re-think this decision, relative to the best interests of the city/taxpayers.
2/4/2014 9:06:58 PM
fastball says:
The Gardens is a dump...and renovating it ONE MORE TIME is a waste of time and money. It reached the point of diminishing returns a decade or so ago. It's outdated on SO many levels...and while a nice piece of nostalgia about the glory days of the Lakehead, it's a bit of a dinosaur - and frankly, an embarrassment as far as being relevant in today's day and age.
The downtown location could be a very nice location for a few alternative facilities.
Of course, throwing another few million into the place would appease the usual group of councillors that would rather put their fingers in the air and see which way the strongest wind is blowing - rather than actually make a decision and take a decisive stand on an issue by themselves.
2/4/2014 10:19:07 PM
S Duncan says:
More negativity?

outdated? why? how?

I personally think the Gardens is quite nice. The colours its painted look great. The giant curling stone is still relative and eye catching.

The seats are small for today's people that seem to be getting larger. In fact if they took out some seats and freed up more room I think they would actually increase turnouts at events instead of cramming them into little seats.

If you find the Gardens "outdated", perhaps its you who is the problem. Replacing things that are perfectly fine and operational just with things that look newer or fancier only appeals to shallow people.

I look at it and see a building that was built with concrete with tons and tons of rebar (cause it was cheap back then, so was cement) I see steel handrails that will last 10 lifetimes, and I see craftsmanship that was built to be the best of its day and last centuries.

and you call it a dump?

That seems quite shallow and superficial to me.
2/5/2014 9:54:37 AM
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