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Conservatory could be closed for 2023

Second phase of renovations to go ahead next year, pending city council approval

THUNDER BAY — City officials say the Centennial Botanical Conservatory is likely to be closed through the next year if council approves the next phase of its renovation project.

The city on Friday issued a news release, which said the facility will be closed after Jan. 1 to temporarily relocate the plants. That closure is expected to extend through 2023.

"While it is unfortunate that the facility will be closed during the renewal, the closure is necessary for the next phase of the planned renovation,” said Cory Halvorsen, the city's manager of parks and open spaces.

“The Conservatory has been an important part of our City for over half a century and the renewal project will replace aging infrastructure and improve the facility to increase the versatility of the space and the programming it can support.”

The planned renewal includes accessibility upgrades, reopening the conservatory's long-shuttered side wings, adding a multi-purpose event room, and replacing glass panels and an aging boiler system, both of which will bring energy savings.

The city said the first phase of the project, which included the construction of new production greenhouses, is nearly complete. Those greenhouses are used to support the facility's operations, as well as the provide plants and flowers used in parks across the city.

Earlier this year, the total cost of the project was pegged at $7 million. The city received $2 million through the province's Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation, and another $1.7 million through FedNor.

The previous city council approved a work plan for the improvements in 2021. The new council will still need to vote to approve a final estimated budget and scope for the project, however, which is expected to take place in February.

During the holidays, the conservatory will be closed between Dec. 23 and 26, as well as after Dec. 30.


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