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Council in Brief: Dec. 4

Thunder Bay’s city council made decisions on its housing strategy, pickleball, and Chippewa Park.
Thunder Bay city hall. (File photo)

THUNDER BAY — Thunder Bay’s city council made moves on housing, recreation, and roads Monday, tackling a broad range of issues.

Council’s final meeting before a holiday break will take place on Monday, Dec. 11.

City staffs up to support housing goals

Council voted to add two new temporary staff positions meant to help the city reach its highly ambitious housing goals.

The new positions include an affordable housing navigator and a housing accelerator coordinator.

The proposal, from Coun. Rajni Agarwal, drew some opposition for departing from normal procedure.

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Council chooses south side pickleball site

Council has identified the Northwood Playfield as a future outdoor pickleball site.

The city will plan for a facility similar to the city’s first dedicated pickleball courts at Boulevard Lake, but isn’t likely to move ahead until at least 2026.

Council discussed issues including noise concerns and usage disputes before approving the move.

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City nets savings from outdoor rink cuts

A controversial process to cut numerous outdoor rinks will net the City of Thunder Bay around $73,000 in savings next year.

That estimate was presented to council on Monday, after council voted to cut about one quarter of the city’s rinks earlier this fall.

Chippewa Park road

A push to repair the section of City Road leading to Chippewa Park achieved mixed results Monday.

While councillors agreed with the Friends of Chippewa Park that the road is in deplorable condition, they also called it a lower-priority project compared to busier roads in the city.

City staff indicated there were no plans and no timeline to rebuild the road, with efforts focused on arteries that bear heavier traffic.

Council directed administration to prepare less costly options than a full replacement, including the possibility of transitioning to a gravel road.

Read our previous coverage

City prepares land sales to boost housing

Responding to a decision by council earlier this year, staff have identified a list of nearly 40 city-owned properties that could be declared surplus to the city’s needs and sold for housing development.

Together, those lands could accommodate an estimated 1,000 or more housing units, staff reported, while estimating the lands could have a total sale value in the neighbourhood of $3 million.

The city plans to fulfill public notice requirements for the lands in the coming months, with sales possible in 2024.

The initiative was pitched as a way to boost housing availability, particularly infill developments building on existing city services, but generated concerns from some councillors over the loss of public lands potentially including parklands.

Read our previous coverage

Roadwork contracts go over budget

Staff reported two major projects, the River Street Culvert replacement and Balmoral reconstruction, had gone over budget.

Each project will cost the city roughly $330,000 more than anticipated, though the Balmoral overage is covered by federal funding received by the city.

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Ian Kaufman

About the Author: Ian Kaufman

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