Tbnewswatch Local News
Wednesday July 1 2015
3:24 PM EDT
2014-07-16 at 16:52

City making offers

Jamie Smith, tbnewswatch.com
By Jamie Smith, tbnewswatch.com

THUNDER BAY -- The city is on the hunt for parking spots in the downtown North core for a proposed event centre.

While city officials stress no deals have been closed, they did confirm that at least five offers have been sent to business and homeowners between Tupper, Camelot, Cumberland and Court Streets.

Meanwhile, tbnewswatch.com has learned that more letters have been sent out beyond that block, all looking for interested land owners o either sell their property or enter into lease agreements. The efforts to acquire the land could give the area's parking about 300 new spaces.

Although offers have been made, not all property owners have been enthusiastic toward the city's proposals.

Some area business owners say the offers have come in too low to even be considered.

On Deck owner Sandy Sellers said he was asked last year to sell his 66-space parking lot on the corner of Camelot and Cumberland last year for $90,000. Two decades ago the lot was purchased for $165,000.

"The offer of $90,000 seemed a little modest," Sellers said.

Earlier this year the city came back asking to partner with Sellers. The business owner wasn't interested in that proposal either.

"I don't want to lose control of the parking lot because I want to make sure On Deck customers have somewhere to park and somewhere they can park for free," he said.

Shoreline Hotel owner Kevin McDowell said he last spoke to the city about his building and parking lot across the street about six months ago.

No offer was made, but like Sellers, McDowell said everything is for sale at the right price.

Not far from the Shoreline, Tony and Lucy Andreacchi turned their retirement dream into a reality three years ago when they set up the Circle of Friends Quilt Shoppe on Tupper Street in a 102-year-old house.

The city sent them a letter last year asking if they were interested in selling the property.

"I love the idea that it's downtown near the waterfront," Lucy Andreacchi said. "I didn't want to be looking anywhere else for another shop."

The couple responded to the letter, confirming to the city that they had no interest in selling.

City of Thunder Bay realty services manager Joel DePeuter said some of the offers are contingent on an event centre being built while others would help with parking overall in the area.

It's part of an overall strategy but he couldn't get into specifics.

"The direction we get is from council in closed session," he said.

Buying surface parking could be a cheaper option than the original $6 million parking structure for the event centre.

Current River Coun. Andrew Foulds said sometimes the city buys property when it serves the best interest of the community. The councillor believes large events like Canada Day, Bluesfest and Festival of India have shown parking isn't in a crisis downtown, but admits more parking could help people with accessibility needs.

"There are people that have mobility issues and I don't want to create a facility, whatever it may be, that hinders their access," he said.

Foulds said when the city buys property it can be for anything from strategy to parking to simply widening roads. The area does have houses and rentals, something the city is in short supply of.

That does factor into decision making, but Foulds is confident the city can strike a balance.

"We're not in the business of going in and destroying neighbourhoods," he said. "You have to balance the interests."

If the city were to move forward with land purchases in north core, the money would likely come from the land development account, part of capital funding.

That's separate from the recent shortfalls the city has seen in its operation budget, Foulds said.

As for why the city would purchase property for a project that hasn't even been approved, Foulds said it's all about the city doing its due diligence.

"I really don't like making decisions that are reactionary, largely because you often make mistakes and often because they're more costly," he said.

Despite the city's claim though, Graham Post said he recently sold a home on Camelot Street to the city.


Click here to submit a letter to the editor.

Click here to report a typo or error



We've improved our comment system.
moi says:
Do us all a big favor tbnewswatch...we realize that stories that are before the courts,or that involve someone comitting a crime against another citizen can't be open to comments...HOWEVER, instead of giving the reader a 2 or 3 line blurp saying.."we can't report on anything associated with this story due to the nature/names/ages/gender of/"...SAVE IT, till there's something of interest to mention regarding said story. Telling us..that the "perp wore a ski mask", makes little sense to the reader. He wore a ski mask "and?".... you get the drift.
7/17/2014 5:41:05 PM
progress now says:
In May, the city facilities manager Michael Smith said referencing the parking structure and pedestrian walkway etc:

"...removing the features is more about due diligence than cost."

Now we are told buying parking is about due diligence. Which is it? Has to be one or the other - can't be both.
7/17/2014 4:30:07 PM
Bob Roberts says:
People its just not all about Parking spaces. First of all the Hydro sub-station has to be relocated (somewhere in the vicinity), Then there is the issue of where to relocate the Waterfront Bus terminal. The damn event center is coming whether we like it or not , nor can we afford it. Cost is not an issue since its not Private money being invested with expecatation of making a decent return. In return the city is going to get a large new downtown PA development, new hotel sometime in 2016/2017. Ecomomic Spin off and possible new business in downtown PA in any of the various vacant business. Oh what joy it will bring to the City's Grand Master Plan for the "entertainment district". Parking revenues will flow and continue to grow. Operating loss and deficit yearly is really not a big concern for the City. Lots of Strategic assets can be sold down the road, Thunder Bay Hydro, Tbay Tel which wil lput the City in good financial long term postion, Not like the Province of Ont. Trust me
7/17/2014 2:25:33 PM
BlueJay12 says:
A little Blue Jay told me that moving that little Hydro Station could cost up to $15 Million dollars...get ready folks!
7/17/2014 2:15:54 PM
fastball says:
That move has been in the works for a few years now in conjunction with the Hydro people. This thing merely accelerated the process by a year or so. I truly believe that move was budgeted for already, and it's not a sudden "new" cost.
7/18/2014 9:29:56 AM
spiderpig says:
Do you think the city is looking for for parking spots or land to relocate the hydro sub station? No one seems to be talking about that little problem. another cost added to the bill.
7/17/2014 1:02:12 PM
Leith Dunick says:
The cost to move the hydro station is in the event centre budget and it's been addressed here several times. The move would be made a few years ahead of the original plan, but the station will be moved with or without an event centre.
7/18/2014 12:47:42 AM
TownDogs says:
GONG SHOW...as usual. This is Northern Ontario, and in case city officials have forgotten this past winter, I have attached a picture to remind them. Seniors and people with small children don't want to walk on sidewalks that are slippery as hell from Tupper Street to the lake front at -20 with a wind chill of -35. If properly done, event centers such as the one being proposed, have underground parking or some sort of parkade adjacent to the structure.

It's sad but not surprising when you hear that we are referred to as "the mistake on the lake" down at Queen's Park. We need to get our act together!, First step: get rid of this council at the next election and demand an audit of the management of this city from top to bottom, followed by one big clean-up time of the little dictatorship that is the Corporation of the City of Thunder Bay! When you call or write to various city departments to offer suggestions, you are basically told to get lost. Democracy and transparency??
7/17/2014 11:42:20 AM
Recommended 1 times.  1  Agree
Flag as Inappropriate
patti says:
The drama from some of the posters is simply amazing.

So it's freezing cold blah, blah, blah, when you attended an event at the gardens WHAT DID YOU DO ?? WHAT WOULD YOU DO AT ANY OTHER EVENT ACROSS THE GLOBE ??

If you are incapable of walking ~ get dropped off at the entrance, PROBLEM SOLVED!!!
7/17/2014 4:44:14 PM
mike25xd says:
I think the city should be thinking about a parking lot for the new court instead of a parking lot that has nothing built for it yesterday. Quite the job when u have a minor court case and have to park 4 blocks down from court, Also having to pay the meter, and If the court case hasn't went through you must some how run to your meter 4 blocks down to put more time in it and risk missing your court because you had to re-fill the time. Shake my head.
7/17/2014 11:25:39 AM
Jack Frost says:
Sell and MOVE west !!

Happiness is seeing "Drama Bay" in the rear view mirror...
7/17/2014 10:28:52 AM
Jon Powers says:
To All!

If City Council removed its 200 space employee/guest parking lot from "The Next Mis-Take by The Lake";

Why not put it back in the project?!

If Intercity Mall and others have free customer parking for the success of their businesses; Why not the city too?

Why doesn't Council Care?

Let's stop this "Business Well-Fare Dome"!

Great Story+Posts!
7/17/2014 9:49:13 AM
bttnk says:
While I don't believe that parking is an issue, I think that a few additional parking lots will serve the customers of the Waterfront Entertainment District and organized events much better.

With that said, I am a little concerned with the City gettign involved in what I believe should be a private investment issue.
7/17/2014 9:42:30 AM
tudor says:
For a project that is only in the design application stage, and to solve a problem the city repeatedly states does not exist,

The city is making offers to spend even more money to create additional parking spaces.

Is there anyone at City Hall, anyone, that sees a problem with this???
7/17/2014 9:14:37 AM
nvjgu says:
It's beyond me to know why they would cram a building like that there.
7/17/2014 8:52:34 AM
what'sup says:
What is interesting is that there is approximately 150 parking spots that are leased monthly by the city for people working in the area. What are these individuals going to do once the event centre is built in these spots? I know I cannot park at a meter and keep running out every two hours? Not sure if the city is looking to replace these spots by asking homeowners/business in the area to give up space to accommodate these cars during the day time.
7/17/2014 8:45:26 AM
Watchmaker says:
Those complaining about the city opening the door to discussions on purchasing property would be the same ones complaining that the city had not done so in advance of the event centre being built.

It is best to do this on a willing seller, willing buyer basis and figure out a plan rather than have to force the issue down the road.
7/17/2014 7:20:06 AM
Smartguy83 says:
Analyst1 there have been many vacant lots sold for under $170k on lake superiors and more inland lakes over the past 5 years than you can fit in an excel spreadsheet. I am in a position to know.

I am not bashing the guy. It was a great business decision. Maybe $90k is a low ball offer but to think it has grown with the real estate in this city is hilarious.
7/17/2014 6:28:17 AM
signman says:
A few weeks ago the City stated there was going to be a maximum price of approximately $100 million dollars on the proposed HOCKEY ARENA being built for a PROFESSIONAL HOCKEY TEAM.

Now the city is making offers and purchasing property around the proposed site at TAXPAYERS EXPENSE over and above this guaranteed price.

This administration and council are treating the taxpayers like dirt and have absolutely no regard for the views of the ordinary taxpyers who pay their salaries.

They purposely denied all of the citizens of
Thunder Bay a vote on this proposed hockey ICE PALACE and it would have been so easy to conduct a vote during the Oct. 27 Municipal Election.

In all the years I have lived in Thunder Bay I have never seen such a mess and such arrogance by a council and administration.
7/17/2014 4:12:51 AM
Recommended 1 times.  1  Agree
Flag as Inappropriate
mysaytbay says:
I'd say now is a good time to get property off your hands as the market is hot. Give it a couple years and I think you will see the markets crash and home prices drop. That's my guess! But make sure the city will pay you top dollar!
7/16/2014 10:40:32 PM
coffeshoppolitician says:
Another mismanaged disaster. Can we hit the reset button on this? Please?

7/16/2014 9:53:43 PM
analyst1 says:
Hey smartguy83, do tell where I can buy a lakefront property for $165,000? Sandy purchased a valuable asset that is integral to the continued success of his business. I think he has done ok for himself without your astute real estate knowledge - or lack thereof.
7/16/2014 8:36:54 PM
olive garden says:
they should look at the LCBO site near by , iam sure they can relocate
and still have the same business.
7/16/2014 8:27:14 PM
tsb says:
Why is our city council doing a thing that almost every single other city council in North America does?? We should be more unique, and do absolutely nothing.

7/16/2014 7:34:07 PM
signman says:
More parking is needed around the Fort William Gardens, Fort william Curling Club and the Court House.

This city does not and can not afford to be wasting more taxpayers money in the north core for parking.

A new Event Centre is not needed now as the Fort William Gardens can serve our needs for at least the next 20 years.

Mayor Hobbs said the city is strapped yet he seems to be wearing blinders when it comes to the proposed $100 million dollar Event Centre that Mr Commisso is pushing so hard for.

What's really going in these closed meetings. Another Wind Farm fiasco!

And the building of the proposed Hotel at the Waterfront put off again for anotherR 6 months, about 7 years overdue.
( And there is no Event Centre connection)WOW

Lets's give all of the 82,000 eleigible voters the PLEBISCITE they so rightfully deserve.

You pleased only yourself with your phone survey that we the majority did not want.

We want only one thing a PLEBISCITE!
The sooner the better
7/16/2014 7:13:15 PM
bttnk says:
It is very difficult to engage in open debate with someone who would suggest that the Fort William Gardens can serve our needs for 20 + more years.

Everyone knows that isn't even remotely true or reasonable
7/17/2014 1:26:17 PM
Jim Halpert says:
I thought that parking would not be an issue as per the opinions expressed in the following recent TBNW story?

7/16/2014 6:48:34 PM
fastball says:
Yes...but with every Chicken Little out there, madly clucking "My god, there's NO parking!!", don't you think that this preliminary offer to acquire more parking (never a bad thing) and assure the mob that parking will be adequate would be a GOOD idea...rather than mocking them?
7/17/2014 3:03:08 PM
Eastender says:
There you go with the name calling. Just because people disagree with you, and you have no logical arguement to make, you resort to calling them "Chicken Little", and a "mob". Where's your class fastball?
7/18/2014 2:14:27 AM
Kam River says:
I am ashamed that I voted for this mayor and council. These are low rent house. The land lords will make a killing for the city who will over pay.
While council throws these people out on the street.
So far council has waste millions on consultants and now millions more on throwing people out of their rental homes.
We have a council that does not care about you and I are now turning on the poor of the poor.
I am ashamed to say I live in Thunder Bay.
7/16/2014 6:31:48 PM
fastball says:
Frankly, after reading all the hysterical, asinine and paranoid rhetoric about this issue - I'm also ashamed to say I live in TBay.
7/17/2014 1:08:30 PM
fastball says:
First they criticize the city for not having enough parking down at the Waterfront for a potential facility. Now that the city is investigating the possibility of turning some property down there into parking - they're being criticized for that! Seriously...what is the problem, exactly?
If you were potentially undertaking a project like that, you'd investigate every angle and opportunity as well, would you not? It's called doing due diligence. If it's cheaper and more expedient to acquire existing properties and convert those into parking, for example - would that not be a good thing? Maybe getting rid of some old, scabby, vacant eyesores might actually improve the area.
7/16/2014 6:23:57 PM
unknowncronik says:

Wow fastball, the city should buy up all the houses near the new courthouse for parking too then!
7/16/2014 11:27:31 PM
orig junkyarddog says:
Stans Pizza it being crunched. So Were's the funding, Why are we spending Hundreds of thousands of tax dollars on acquirering properties prematurely , that our citizens can not afford. How much has been spent why wasn't it made public, This shows deceitfulness and a blatant disregard for all the citizens in Thunder Bay. Every million they spend raises everyones taxes by a percentage point minimum. This latest municipal action does nothing but create mistrust of the current Municipal Government.
Doug Powell Candidate for Mckellar Ward
7/16/2014 6:00:35 PM
tsb says:
"Every million they spend raises everyones taxes by a percentage point minimum."

No... it doesn't, really. Please understand how municipal budgets work before applying to work on them, thanks!
7/17/2014 7:14:25 AM
sprintfan says:
"If the city were to move forward with land purchases in north core, the money would likely come from the land development account, part of capital funding."
More smoke & mirrors by the city,just as the Hydro station wont likely be allotted to the total cost! We are being bamboozled here by "Snake Oil Salesmen" and we'll never be told how much it really will cost! The "Naysayers" & "Fear mongers" will be proven correct by a landslide! An empty victory as we'll have to pay for the albatross!
7/16/2014 5:55:48 PM
sprintfan says:
Not surprised,I predicted this in a letter I wrote to council in March!
"I have no doubt that should this facility proceed at that location, the parking will be dealt with by almost immediately pushing the parkade number back to 500. With the problem still existing as attendance is less than forecast, surrounding properties will be purchased to develop additional parking in an attempt to salvage a majorly flawed and disastrous plan. This will add a substantial amount to an already overly expensive location. Recall, Innova Park’s cost included 2000 parking spots at $80 million!"
7/16/2014 5:50:17 PM
ranma says:
What's to stop the city from using eminent domain and basically stealing the property?
7/16/2014 5:44:37 PM
tsb says:
Canada doesn't have eminent domain laws. You're thinking of the US.

We have expropriation here, which requires the city first seek provincial approval to take the land, and then pay the lands owner not only market value for it but also additional costs for damages, lost revenue, and so on. It's used more as a last resort because it gets very expensive. Eminent domain, in the US, allows that country to take land from people for market value, and nothing more.

And to be totally honest, what the city is doing in making offers to these homeowners is closer to stealing than expropriation would be, since the offers the city is giving to people excludes any form of compensation outside of market value for the property. If I were them, I would turn each and every offer down.
7/17/2014 7:11:25 AM
enos012 says:
A lot purchased for $165000 2 decades ago and asking to sell for $90,000?!?! Give me a break considering the highly over priced housing market I wouldn't sell for less than $300,000.
7/16/2014 5:40:43 PM
tsx says:
I swear that its time for a new major and a new city council, this is getting ridiculous.
7/16/2014 5:38:35 PM
fastball says:
Why exactly?
Because they're addressing a need that's been identified with the new event centre?
What's wrong with them investigating the possibility of seeing if there's a few lots that might be had to use for parking?

7/16/2014 6:13:09 PM
Common cents says:
And I'm with you, There are two councillors that I will vote for.

I am sick of this mess....

7/16/2014 10:02:57 PM
smartguy83 says:
Sorry On Deck but someone ripped you off. You can buy a lakefront property for that price.
7/16/2014 5:36:02 PM
SandHawk says:
City of Thunder Bay ummm...hmmm... no parking problems for the north core....Oh you mean where the event center is going to go....Ummm..Nah where good.....
7/16/2014 5:20:55 PM
progress now says:
Interesting point:

"As for why the city would purchase property for a project that hasn't even been approved, Foulds said it's all about the city doing its due diligence."

This is not in the neighbourhood of due diligence if the project is not a guaranteed go.

They tell us it isn't a guaranteed go - but that this is due diligence.

We are adults, not children. This is indistinguishable to us from flim-flam.
7/16/2014 5:20:14 PM
smartguy83 says:
It is the exact definition of due diligence. Keep trolling.
7/16/2014 5:34:53 PM
Centrist says:
100%, due diligence means they do their homework first "in case" something happens!
7/16/2014 7:06:14 PM
progress now says:
Due diligence suggests investigation with a standard of care.

This is buying land.

Whatever it represents 100% of, it is way beyond due diligence.

We will agree to disagree this time.
7/16/2014 10:17:11 PM
fastball says:
Not sure what your point is here.
They're going around and asking if there's property in the area that might be available to acquire. And in the Shoreline case, the owner approached the city with an offer to sell. He didn't like the offer, apparently. Frankly, what the guy paid 20 years ago is irrelevant in the long run.
No matter what they do, the city will be pilloried for it. "No parking" was a problem. Now that they're trying to address that for the naysayers, apparently that's a problem too.
7/17/2014 7:53:33 AM
p.o.ed taxpayer says:
Due diligence would have been to listen and investigate the problems BEFORE rather than later. This issue was identified at the BEGINNING of this process and has repeatedly been denied by admin and council. If I am not mistaken it has also been denied that the city was attempting to purchase properties in the area. This admin has demonstrated that they will do anything to push this project through. The beauty of in-camera meetings!! The only people to gain here will be the few local business and property owners with a vested interest in this project proceeding.
7/17/2014 11:15:30 AM
fastball says:
Respectfully - that's just...well, wrong.
Is there an absolute DIRE need for more parking down there? That's debatable...but let's concede that more parking spots in the area are better than fewer parking spots. So the city goes out and sees what might be available to turn into parking lots in the short/long term future. How is that bad?
Frankly, they did their due diligence. They noted that the parking issue was the issue most identified with the public. So they're attempting to address that issue in a variety of ways - in this case, purchasing up some lots that might be available for sale.
Buying a few properties within a 5 minute walk and paving them over is far cheaper than spending 6 million on a parking structure.
That approach seems to make sense to me. However if you're the type that sees conspiracies everywhere, apparently not.
And if you're the type that refuses to concede that the waterfront is where it's going - well, nothing will EVER change your mind.
7/17/2014 11:49:34 AM
anarnosti says:
Seems a little premature for something that may not even be built... "Hello. We plan to keep building every attraction in Tbay in the downtown PA area... We don't know if we actually are going to build it or not but please sell us your property and move just in case we do." I sure hope most of these home owners tell them where to go and how to get there.
7/16/2014 5:12:00 PM
Comments for this story are semi-moderated. Read our comment guideline.

Add a new comment.
You must log in to add comments.
Create a new account
Log In