THUNDER BAY – Monday’s city council meeting was dominated by a contentious three-hour discussion that led to an increase in spectator capacity at city ice rinks, over concerns from top city staffers.
Council also heard details of the province’s long-term plans for a stretch of Highway 61 south of the Thunder Bay Airport, and received information on a potential ballot question for the 2022 municipal election.
City ups arena capacity
Responding to blowback from the local minor league hockey community, the city will further increase spectator limits at its satellite arenas to the maximum allowed under provincial COVID-19 regulations.
City staff told council that could prove impossible, given limited staff resources and provincial requirements for screening, distancing, and more. However, a majority of councillors voted to push administration to meet the targets, with a report on feasibility and extra costs due back on Oct. 4.
Province seeks input on Highway 61 plans
It may lack a firm timeline or budget commitment, but a long-term provincial plan for a stretch of Highway 61 south of the Thunder Bay Airport could have major implications.
Council heard details of the plan, which will accept public feedback as of Oct. 6, on Monday.
Council advised on 2022 ballot question
If councillors are chomping at the bit to change the way they're elected, they gave no indication of that Monday night.
There was no discussion on a report from city clerk Krista Power outlining the process to put a potential ballot question that could reduce the size of council, among other changes, to citizens in the 2022 municipal election.
Council directed Power to report back on a review of council’s size and composition in 2023, after hearing COVID-19 would make a more ambitious timeline challenging. Coun. Peng You had expressed frustration over the delay, calling for a report on the potential for a ballot question in next year’s election.