Tbnewswatch Local News
Sunday July 5 2015
3:25 PM EDT
2014-06-04 at 16:26

Re-purposing Gardens a $10M project

By Jamie Smith, tbnewswatch.com

THUNDER BAY -- A report on what to do with the Fort William Gardens is coming to city council with nearly $10 million in recommendations.

CEI Architecture's Conrad Boychuck said the sum of the report is that if an event centre is built, the Gardens should be re-purposed to be as flexible to the community as possible.

"The idea is not to make its use focused on a small group of sports," he said.

"It should be a building most people can use."

Ideally the ice and most seats, with the exception of some on the North side of the building that extend over part of the Fort William Curling Club, should be removed. It's recommended that the curling club stay as is.

That work is estimated at around $7.7 million including leveling the surface, which Boychuck said for some reason in the past had a concrete slab put on top of the original making the surface eight inches higher than the rest of the ground.

The ice surface could be replaced with a more general sports floor, around $387,000, that could also double as space for trade shows, farmers markets, pow-wows and other general activities while still being able to hold a variety of sports like basketball or badminton. Retractable bleachers, $356,000, could be installed for events like the annual Remembrance Day ceremony.

"So you can take full advantage of that large free span," he said. "So you can maximize its use."

The upper level would be converted into a walking track, $1.2 million, with space for fitness equipment, $150,000.

What's not recommended is demolishing the building at an estimated $3 million, including environmental clean-up, when the land is only worth around $300,000.

"It doesn't seem to make sense," Boychuck said.

The report to council said the recommendations should be looked at as a future strategic resource document. It will be presented Monday night.


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ALEXA says:
No sense saving the gardens just for the sake of saving it if it isn't truly needed for some purpose. tear it down, make extra parking for the south core, it is needed.
6/6/2014 3:01:08 PM
ring of fire dude says:
And everybody thinks Rob Ford is a joke .
6/5/2014 7:36:32 PM
Eastender says:
I'll take Rob Ford over Homer Simpson any day. D'oh.
6/7/2014 10:41:57 AM
Jon Powers says:

Onward! Upward! Build! Build!

Please grace the members of this forum panel with your groups opinion!?

Q: Is it Mo Money! Mo Money! Mo Money!?

A: Is it I will let the "City Government" make the choice so I don't have to.

Onward! Upward! Build! Build!

Opportunity Thunder Bay Slogan!

Great Posts Everyone!
Keep On Posting!
6/5/2014 7:12:07 PM
Wolfie says:
Am I the only one who doesn't have a clue what this comment is about?

Also, why do you sign your comments with "tbnewswatch.com"? This leads me to believe that you represent them. Do you?
6/8/2014 8:28:14 PM
windigo says:
Shows the value of consultants. Pay 10 million to compete with the Canada games complex, and all the private fitness facilities, and to compete for trade shows with the new facility and the current private ones. 1.2 million for a running track, where do they get these idiots?
It is amazing how many people think 10 million is not a lot of moneymaybe we should spend 10 million, and have a decent hockey rink, and forget the 100 million rink.
6/5/2014 5:24:46 PM
signman says:
The Essar Centre is Sault Ste. Marie cost $25 million dollars to build, $28.2 in todays dollars according to their web site. ( no money losing convention centre)

The new rink in St Catherines to open this fall cost about $50 million dollars. ( no money losing convention centre)

Only in Thunder Bay with the highest tax rate in the province would the city be talking in the hundreds of millions.

Sample type question in the city's $20,000 mutiple choice poll. (Just 1,000 surveyed)

In order to build the proposed $100 plus million dollar Event Centre are you prepared to give up

A. 1 coffee per day
B. 2 coffees per day
C. 3 coffees per day or
D. Your house,car and 1 case of beer each month




6/5/2014 2:21:27 PM
eventscentre says:
There were no such questions in that survey. Why are you spreading such falsehoods? You must have dreamt that one up.
6/6/2014 7:46:47 AM
iceman says:
Simple math $110 million divided by 109,000 people in Thunder Bay works out to $1009 per person, which includes kids etc.
I know some of you will say yes The provincial and Federal will pay part of that, but were does that money ultimately come from....
6/5/2014 11:59:37 AM
fastball says:
And businesses pay absolutely no tax whatsoever, right? Only residents pay taxes?
Give your head a shake. Honestly.
6/5/2014 3:33:13 PM
JYDOG says:
His math was correct, as he was not speaking literally and was just using the population figure as a visual aid for those of you who purposefully try to distort the project's data so it seems less ludicrous than it actually is. His reasoning is sound. $1000 per citizen is what this will insane endeavor will cost, even if others are unfortunate enough to wind up sharing our shameful burden.
6/5/2014 4:55:29 PM
Allan J. says:
and who owns those businesses?

your fellow citizen. Where do you think businesses get the money to pay their taxes?

their customers.

so, the people will ultimately pay for it all.

its your head that is shaking. How many stories will you invent to justify this project?

You are continually making up stories to make this seem more viable than it obviously isn't.

Quite simply taxpayers shouldn't be paying to build a hockey rink for a rich team owner to make more money from.

If the team wants this so badly, let them pay for it. If Thunder Bay is such a hockey town (it isn't) they would be happy to build it here where the market might support their investment.

Somehow idiots seem to have gotten confused and now think its the citizens responsibility to cater to their hockey team when the reality is the exact opposite.

So once again, why don't you go build this with your own money instead of telling others they have to pay for it because you are not capable of it yourself.
6/5/2014 9:56:18 PM
Wolfie says:
"Where do you think businesses get the money to pay their taxes?

their customers.

so, the people will ultimately pay for it all."

Two points on this:

1. Many local taxpaying businesses have customers in other places. I couldn't care less if customers of Bombardier or Resolute or the grain elevators have to pay an inconsequential amount more because of the event centre. However, they likely won't, because of...

2. Price elasticity. It's an interesting thing. I think some reading on it would be beneficial to many on here.
6/8/2014 8:36:44 PM
Robert Bob says:
Best bet to re-purpose the Gardens would be to build Condo's on top of it. Sell the building to Developers, keep the curling club. A nice 10-16 floor condo development. No need to spend another 10 Million of City's never ending Slush Fund. A private developer could add some "retail space" options on the ground floor level to make some addtional cash flow and direct benefits to everyone in the hood. Some shops, some small business, maybe some services. I doubt we need any of the other Crap listed in the Consultants recommendations. Problem solved. One less drain on taxpayers.
6/5/2014 10:57:59 AM
Wolfie says:
That's not going to happen anytime soon in that location.
6/5/2014 11:33:19 AM
ou812 says:
Let the Gardens rot for a few more years.

I think that many people in Thunder Bay can afford to pay more taxes. Look around at all the houses going up in new subdivisions. If people can afford to pay $400,000 plus for a brand new house they can surely afford a few more bucks in taxes

The smart people in Thunder by know the Event Centre downtown is the correct location.
6/5/2014 9:37:00 AM
dynamiter says:
As part of the new 1 million for Phase 3 they are actually asking for 400 K to design a new Hydro substation. They are doing that now before the event center project is even totally approved?? It is going to cost at least 8 million to move the substation - a price tag that could jump with the cost to purchase additional land to house this thing and even more if they have to increase the distance from the existing station. Seems to me that this great experiment downtown is in the wrong location. WHY? Lets keep the Gardens going for a few more years until we can afford a new rink and at a better location. To heck with the hotel on the marina.
6/5/2014 9:32:49 AM
keiths31 says:
So we are going to 're-purpose' the Gardens floor to allow for trade shows? Wouldn't the 50,000 sq feet of convention space provide for that?
6/5/2014 9:08:38 AM
Wolfie says:
I'm with you there. That part of it makes no sense.
6/5/2014 10:04:03 AM
old vienna says:
Hobbs and Commisso need to call a press conference next week and tell the citizens of Thunder Bay they are no longer pursuing an event center for thunder bay and have a shredder on hand at the press conference to shred phase 1 phase 2 phase 3 and other ridiculous and foolish phases. Do something right for once during your mayoral term Hobbs.
6/5/2014 8:16:04 AM
Watchmaker says:
I have been a supporter of the event centre largely because the Gardens is an older building whose time has come. $10 million to "repurpose" this building is stupid. Tbay doesn't need and likely cannot support TWO event centres.

6/5/2014 7:39:42 AM
Ozone says:
Why does the City continually use CEI architects? Every job has controversy.

No local or other firms?
6/5/2014 7:34:53 AM
sprintfan says:
Its simple, they give the city the answer it wants!
6/5/2014 4:43:22 PM
The Beaver..... says:

Beaver, YQTYQT, S. Duncan are on the way this morning to form a protective circle around Kathleen Wynne because she needs all the help she can get.
6/5/2014 6:53:32 AM
sawmillsteve says:
Just add the cost to the debt the city has of around $187million.......
6/5/2014 5:32:42 AM
JYDOG says:
So, this $10 mil gets added to the $100 mil + that's going towards the replacement HOCKEY RINK, and the other fees and over-runs, and we're potentially well over $120 mil 10 years from now. So, how much would it cost to simply renovate the Gardens to get it up to AHL snuff. No-where near $120 mil, that's for sure, which really goes to explaining why they need to obliterate the Gardens with this ridiculous repurposing, so that we have no choice but to go the new arena rip-off route. So sad.
6/5/2014 2:17:46 AM
Wolfie says:
"You invest in a 50-year-old building, you put millions of dollars in it and at the end of the day you still have a 50-year-old building," Sault mayor Debbie Amaroso, a city councillor when the new arena opened in 2006, said.

6/5/2014 10:06:01 AM
JYDOG says:
That wondrous Essar Centre you cite, is as much a guaranteed loser as our bogus waterfront hockey rink will be. http://www.saultstar.com/2013/08/13/sault-city-council-receives-report-on-essar-centre
6/5/2014 10:58:01 AM
Wolfie says:
I'm not saying anything is "wondrous"... I'm just wondering why you would put millions into a very old building just to have a slightly better very old building.
6/5/2014 11:38:42 AM
JYDOG says:
Yes, spending $30 million for the city to have a first rate entertainment venue for the next 30 years, versus us spending $150 million for the city to have a first rate entertainment venue for the next 30 years. Yes, why indeed? Geesh.
6/5/2014 12:04:10 PM
Wolfie says:
North Bay just spent ~$17.5 million to renovate their arena for the return of the OHL. That got them an ice surface enlarged to modern standards(which I don't believe FWG has) and 10 private boxes. The seats are still cramped, the concourses are still cramped, and the acoustics are still poor. It's a passable OHL arena, but it's a long, long way from a "first rate entertainment venue".

6/5/2014 4:02:04 PM
JYDOG says:
1 extra inch of seat width, or 1 extra inch of leg room, or 5% better acoustics, is worth an extra 80 million added to the project by going rebuild & repurpose instead of simply renovating?
6/6/2014 1:07:48 PM
Wolfie says:
If that was what it came down to, I would agree with you.

But it isn't.
6/8/2014 8:21:52 PM
tbay87 says:
The questions that should be asked are:
- Is there really a need for the proposed facility?
- Does that need justify ~7 million (Cost of changes minus cost of alternative: demolition)
- What will the ongoing costs be? Are those worth the benefits the Gardens will give

The land's value is mostly irrelevant here, I think most people assumed that doing something with the Gardens had to be considered as part of the event center costs.
6/4/2014 11:03:57 PM
Pandora says:
Does Mr Boychuk think we can afford all this and an event centre?
This just proves to me this whole project and everyone involved has lost their minds.
6/4/2014 10:28:58 PM
patti says:
Most cities take the expense hit for demolition vs rehabilitation for a reason.

6/4/2014 10:22:16 PM
dynamiter says:
Good job consultants. Put together another wish list for the rich taxpayers of Tbay to consider. Just why could this not have been done in -house?
6/4/2014 9:58:24 PM
caesarjbasquitti says:
I honestly don't see the need for rebuilding the Gardens in the downtown Port Arthur Ward.

The current needs, the projected demands, the growing different entertainment options, suggests keeping this structure will suffice, IN LIGHT OF OTHER PRIORITIES this city has.

The city has to first fine tune its analysis and design capability.

It seems the City is moving too fast in a direction that 'the people' have never authorized and are slipping in the new entertainment center in through the back door.

The proposed downtown Port Arthur location, while benefiting some businesses in the area, will serious affect others negatively, ie parking. The proposed site has a lack of space for expansions...(more to come in a full analysis report by Capital T Consultants)
6/4/2014 8:18:10 PM
fastball says:
How does parking "seriously affect others negatively"? At worst, it's an inconvenience for people that are mobility challenged. For anyone else with two working legs, a walk of a few minutes is hardly a "seriously negative effect". For god's sake, Caesar - you're down in the North Core....you of all people should know how much on-street parking exists, and how much there could be in the future.
I can see some guy who never leaves Westfort having some misconception about PA...but you?
6/5/2014 7:46:43 AM
AndersonSilvasLeg says:
The ones who are affected will more than likely be the residents who live on the streets that people will be parking on; effectively taking their parking spaces.

At least, that's how my understanding works.
6/5/2014 2:37:24 PM
fastball says:
Some people will whine and complain about everything and anything.
6/5/2014 6:36:26 PM
Eastender says:
Keep the gardens.
Scrap the Events Centre.
6/4/2014 7:54:43 PM
Tiredofit says:
City says It's not good enough for for trade show or sporting events so they want to spend $10 million on it for this! This city is making us look like buffoons!

And let's not forget about the auditorium, another money losing centre we will still have to bail out every year! I'm sure that cost will sky rocket as well.

Don't worry residents, we can simply raise your taxes to cover it all.... Unreal...
6/4/2014 7:05:32 PM
fastball says:
The Gardens has a lot of life in it yet - but her days as a state of the art facility are decades behind her.
Repurpose her as a place for community group activities or farmers' markets and the like, and she'll hold up well for a decade or more. But as a place for concerts or games or anything needing more than 20 plug-ins...not so much.
6/4/2014 7:02:57 PM
Kam River says:
So add another $10 million to the cost of the Multiplex.
Plus $2million short fall every year for the multiplex and now on top of that another million dollar short fill or more for the Garden.
Wow I do not know anyone who can afford that high level of added taxes.
What is this council thinking
6/4/2014 6:53:24 PM
SomeGuy says:
Knock it down, make it a park and some parking.
6/4/2014 6:04:52 PM
jonthunder says:
Where is the complete business plan for viability? The city should sell it to the highest bidder and let them deal with it and all the dangerous financial risks.
6/4/2014 5:53:56 PM
Allan J. says:
I think the new hockey rink idea has way too many torpedo holes in her side now to stay afloat.

Although, most citizens with a working brain already knew this was a dumb idea initially but the sad thing is these dummys keep supporting it.

We cannot afford it. We cannot afford this. We do not need it, nor does the overwhelming majority want it.

Its time to put this idiotic idea into the annals of idiocy where it belongs. Commisso can sign his name to the millions we already wasted on it without the citizens approval.

What a complete embarrassment this is for city hall. I think it really shows the lack of skill and the poor quality return we are getting on the salarys we pay these dreamers.

The Gardens will have to remain a hockey rink for now. Its obviously not falling down and maintaining it as it is now is the best we can afford.

Bye bye baby jets. Get some other suckers to build you a new play pen.
6/4/2014 5:49:00 PM
eventscentre says:
The road without obstacles is one not worth taking! A project of this magnitude always takes a lot of adjusting, taking and giving, reducing, comprising. Did you know that the Sidney Opera House was built for fifteen times what it was originally budgeted to cost? And look at it now!!! Now all the pot and pan bangers are going to say that you can't compare TBay to Sidney, but the principle is the same. We got something good here folks, let's not let a measly million dollars get us down!!!
6/5/2014 7:58:27 PM
lori says:
10 million here, 1 million more for Phase 3. Life is good in T.Bay.

While we are at it. I was hoping we could build a football stadium and try to get a CFL franchise up here. We all love football. T.Bay vs Winnipeg silvery. Perfect.

We could close FW stadium and use that for the Chill and close PA stadium and play the Border Cats games there too. Think of the money we can save. As we already know there is enough parking in the north core, we can build it up there to rejuvenate the area and have a flourishing business district. Attach a hotel to it to attract even more conventions and the sky's the limit I say.

Beaver, YQTYQT, S. Duncan. We are all in agreement today.

Marina will be on budget say our experts. How did that go.
The event centre will be on budget. They can't even get the study on budget.
They gave us Horizon Wind.

Barnum and Bailey would be proud of this group.

When does this comedy come to a close
6/4/2014 5:40:29 PM
Rock49 says:
This is from the person that brags how much money the Liberals spent in Thunder Bay using only deficit money to pay for it???
6/5/2014 1:27:59 AM
S Duncan says:
hes right lori. I agree with you today but you are not consistent. All that does is undermine your credibility on issues like this one.

You cannot be in favour of provincial welfare all the time and then pretend welfare hockey is no good. It shows that you are only in it for you, not the good of everybody.

Besides, your precious liberals want to throw money at this project like they do everything else. Luckily they will be looking for work after their leader's terrible performance the other night.

our local reds might still win, but they wont be forming government so kiss that welfare good bye.

Goodbye welfare dome, goodbye liberals. Ontario needs a lot of blue band aids over its wounds and it will take decades to heal if we are lucky.

So, be consistent lori. Welfare is welfare. You cannot be against one form of it and not another.
6/5/2014 10:17:43 AM
lori says:
how can you be so consistently wrong. I have never once said I support deficits or debt. Quite the contrary, I have repeatedly said I don't like them. I don't like it when Liberals do it and I don't like it when conservatives or NDP do it. I believe in paying our way.

What I have always said is that this money is being spent anyway and our two MPP's have brought the cash here and have done great things with it. I have said the money is being spent in Ottawa too and we are getting none of it.

I have also asked people if any MPP from any party should ever tell their own gov't. NO thanks. Don't give me that cash.

for example our City Council wants the event centre. You and I don't. So should our MPP's listen to you or me. Should they decide what is good for the city or should the duly elected council.

They represent everyone and it there job to bring things here. Number 1 job. Not to please you or me or the Beaver. What if they said no to more nurses to save money. U okay with that.
6/5/2014 11:04:22 AM
ibrando says:
Wait a minute. How much did we pay Boychuck to come up with the idea of a running track above convention/basketball space? Unbelievable.
6/4/2014 5:25:03 PM
crypto says:
Should we consider the current build cost of the Event's Centre to be at 110 million now?

I realize that's not this works but I'll be surprised if City Council votes down these recommendations assuming the Event's Centre goes ahead as currently planned.

We're Thunder Bay! We've gotta have it all!
6/4/2014 5:09:57 PM
eventscentre says:
Your question shows how confused and unschooled about basic Economics the naysayers are. The answer to your question is no, the cost of the Events Centre doesn't involve the renovations to the Gardens. It's not the Events Centre's fault that the Gardens exists, or that it is obsolete. Once the Events Centre is built and the 100 or so of you keyboard warriors realize that the sky isn't going to fall and Thunder Bay becomes a better place, you'll laugh at your silly fears during the early phases of the project. I promise you this
6/5/2014 7:32:07 AM
Reignmaker says:
If your reading comprehension was better you would have realized that the poster stated that he realized it wasn't the same thing but would still be an added cost of having both buildings instead of just the cost to renovate the Gardens. Maybe you should look at your own abilities before calling out others.

As for the remark about 100 or so "keyboard warriors", perhaps you should keep in mind that the last event supporting the Centre....held on the nicest day of the year at that point....didn't do much better than the event held against the Centre on the coldest day.
6/5/2014 9:03:05 AM
eventscentre says:
Now we both know that the majority of citizens want the Events Centre to be a reality. If you don't get that yet, you must be a pot and pan banger. And while we're taking a shot at my reading, let's comment on your writing. Do you know what a run-on sentence is? Read your first sentence and rewrite it please.
6/5/2014 7:08:14 PM
signman says:
The city can't even afford to paint the exterior of the Fort Willaim Gardens or repair the potholes in our roads. They are laying off seasonal workers early who do this as there is no money to pay them.

Lets get real and forget about this MONEY SUCKING Event Centre!

Send the consultant home too! We can't afford his services either!

Remember Mayor Hobbs recently stated the city is strapped and has to tighten the purse strings.


6/4/2014 5:06:42 PM
ring of fire dude says:
Unbelievable ! So the Consultant is suggesting to leave the Gardens standing so it can compete with the new arena if it's built ? How much do we pay this guy again ?!!
6/4/2014 4:56:32 PM
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