THUNDER BAY -- The Centennial Botanical Conservatory could be partially open by February.
The conservatory on Dease Street closed over concerns of falling glass in February last year. City council decided the facility could partially reopen if a safety net was put in place. City infrastructure manager Darrell Matson said the city has already gone to the marketplace for quotes for a contractor to start installing the net.
The installation of the net will take about three weeks. Matson estimated the cost to be around $40,000, well below their $76,500 budget.
Administration had hoped to have the conservatory open before Christmas but those plans fell through. Matson said the delay was in part because they wanted to make sure they got a good deal but also because they outsourced the work.
“What residents will see when they come through the doors above their heads there will be a net,” Matson said.
“Administration needs to report on the operations at the conservatory and the greenhouse operations for the 2013 fiscal year. From 2013 to 2014, city administration needs to work on the long term components of the conservatory.”
Matson said operation costs and possibly study funds could be present in the 2013 budget. He believes that the city needs to make a decision on whether to demolish the building by the next growing season.
He said there’s a chance that by late 2013 the greenhouses could be demolished but there will be a plan in place to outsource it or put a new facility in its place.
Jamie Varga, spokesman for the Friends of the Conservatory Group, said there’s still people who are willing to keep the facility running. Varga doubted the city’s claims of the falling glass but was glad to hear council wanted to keep it open.
“My aspect of it was more scrutinizing of council and their actions towards public services,” he said.
“It ended up being closed and as soon as people started looking into it all of a sudden there’s this issue of falling glass that was never ever substantiated.”
Varga said he hopes that once the group gains more momentum they will be able to attract more people to the conservatory. He also wants a few things to change, such as having a donation box more visible to the public as well as a counter to find out how many people are visiting each a day.
There will also be more information and advertisement to attract more people to the conservatory.