THUNDER BAY — Thunder Bay’s city council spent hours discussing a variety of infrastructure needs on Monday, from a proposed indoor turf facility to two major road and water contracts that each received only a single bid.
Council also opted to bring a greater focus to its infrastructure plans, ordering an updated priority list that could determine which projects are emphasized and which are put on the back-burner.
Council next plans to meet on March 20.
Council forges ahead with SNO indoor turf concept
Councillors voted to proceed with a review of a Soccer Northwest Ontario proposal for an indoor turf facility next to the Canada Games Complex.
The organization has pitched a hangar-like design it says can be built for around $20 million, but staff concluded the real cost would be $24 to $26 million in an initial review presented Monday.
It would cost more like $30 million to build it to city design guidelines, staff said, saying that could bring energy savings of up to 40 per cent and a longer lifespan.
Councillors enticed by a lower price tag directed staff to return with details on both SNO’s original proposal and a version beefed up to meet city guidelines.
Canada Games Complex to close for four months during renovations
The Canada Games Complex is set to close for four months beginning in June,
Activist and educator Paul Berger asked council not to approve the work, arguing the new natural gas-fired boiler would lock the city in to decades of fossil fuel use, contradicting its own climate goals.
Staff said alternative approaches like using geothermal heat need further study, while relying on electricity would be prohibitively expensive, even accounting for a rising carbon tax.
Fort William Gardens in for condenser upgrade
Council approved a $750,000 contract to replace the condenser at the Fort William Gardens, which pulls heat from the ice-making system for the arena’s skating and curling rinks. The component is nearly a decade beyond its recommended lifespan.
It’s the latest phase in an ongoing restoration meant to extend the aging facility’s lifespan for at least 15 years.
The city received only one bid for the work, from EKT 90 Inc., which staff said has completed similar contracts in the past.
Accounting for an HST rebate, the project will cost the city closer to $664,000. It’s estimated to cut energy costs by $80,000 a year, and carbon emissions by nearly 40 per cent.
Staff said an application for federal funding is still outstanding.
Infrastructure priority list
A call from Coun. Trevor Giertuga for an updated list setting out the city’s top 25 infrastructure priorities won council approval Monday.
The list will include both new projects and maintenance of existing assets, and will update the most recent version from 2021.
That list included priorities like an indoor turf complex, updated traffic light system, upgrades to the Canada Games Complex and Fort William Gardens, and more.
Road, water contracts awarded on single bids
Council awarded two significant infrastructure contracts for road and water improvements.
That included a $1 million contract for hot-in-place asphalt on Central Avenue, Twin City Crossroads, and Riverdale Road, as well as repairs to curb and gutter, catch basins, and maintenance holes.
Pioneer Construction Inc. won the contract after submitting the only bid, coming in just below the city’s pre-tender estimate.
Another $2.6 million contract was awarded on a single bid to Main Rehabilitation (2011) Incorporated, which also came in just below the city’s pre-tender estimate.
The work will clean and line aging cast iron water pipes in an area east of Brent Park between Margaret and Clayte streets. The work will improve flow for fire crews as well as water quality, the city says.
City staff said both contracts involved specialized work in explaining the lack of more bids.