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City seeks government funding for Fort William Gardens upgrades

The project is among several which administration is recommending city council submit
If infrastructure money is available, improvements at Thunder Bay's major arena would happen over four years (Tbnewswatch file)

THUNDER BAY — Nearly $5 million in renovations for the aging Fort William Gardens are among the list of projects for which city administration is recommending the city seek infrastructure funding from the two senior governments.

However, as expected, the big-ticket item is the proposed multi-use indoor sports facility at Chapples Park.

City council must submit its requests by November 12.

Under the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP), the federal government covers 40 per cent of the cost of approved projects, the province is responsible for 33 per cent, and the municipality pays for the remainder.

The estimated cost of the multi-use facility is $30 million, but not all of that is eligible for consideration under ICIP.

If approved, the city will still have to come up with $7 million.

Construction would start next year and finish in 2022.

In a report prepared for consideration by council at its meeting next Monday, administration says the Fort William Gardens improvements would include energy efficiency, box office/concessions and change rooms to support the hosting of events.  

In addition, modern rigging would address a safety issue for contractors, employees and performers , as it is not currently possible to rig to the ceiling of the arena. 

Work would take place between 2021 and 2025.

Also on the city's wish list is $5 million worth of Festival Area improvements at Marina Park. 

That project would see the stage area relocated to the north end of the field, angled away from downtown, as well as electrical and other infrastructure upgrades.

Administration wants to seek funding, as well, for a $1.55 million resurfacing of the Fort William Stadium Legion track, and replacement of the turf field in 2021.