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Letter to the Editor: Thunder Bay taxpayers pay the price

It’s befuddling. Thunder Bay taxpayers contributed $106,000 to a study that’s turned out to be fatally deficient. Now, taxpayers are ponying up another $25,000 to fix it. The study was done by Stantec for Soccer Northwest.
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Letters to the editor - with text

To the editor:

It’s befuddling. Thunder Bay taxpayers contributed $106,000 to a study that’s turned out to be fatally deficient.

Now, taxpayers are ponying up another $25,000 to fix it.

The study was done by Stantec for Soccer Northwest. It was supposed to be a feasibility study for a proposed $25-million indoor complex.

Few people have seen the study, but bureaucrats at the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund have. They say it needs a re-do. What they think is important. That’s because the Heritage Fund is supposed to be a major source of funding.

According to a memo from the general manager of community services:

“Current federal and provincial funding programs will evaluate applications on the project's capacity to demonstrate new positive long-term economic impacts to the city/district through tourism/jobs. More research and analysis is required to meet NOHFC's requirements in respect of the tourism/economic impacts of this project.”

At last week’s city budget meeting Kelly Robertson, the general manager of community services told city councillors that the Stantec report’s economic arguments were “weak” and that Soccer Northwest needed help developing a plan that will be more successful with the Heritage Fund bureaucrats.

There’s a lot one could say about the gamesmanship involved in making up numbers to sell the project to senior levels of government.

But the shame here is that the city has to pay extra to do it. This expensive make-over is directly the result of city council’s surrendering control over this project.
The project was in the city’s master plan for Chapples Park. It was to be built in five to seven years. That was the plan. No longer. Now, because of city council’s pandering to a single interest group, the plan has spun out of control and we’re paying the price.

Shane Judge,
Thunder Bay