The provincial and federal governments have chipped in to finish the final phase of a proposed events centre, but it's too early to say what that might mean when the city comes asking for big money to get it built.
FedNor and the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation gave the city more than $577,000 each to complete Phase 3 of the events centre, which includes everything from schematics and engineering studies to business and economic development plans.
City facilities manager Michael Smith said by the end of September when Phase 3 is completed, the project would be ready to break ground should funding partners be found to help with the $106 million needed and council approves.
"We are very optimistic," Smith said Thursday morning when the Phase Three funding was announced.
Northern Development Minister Michael Gravelle said he's a big supporter of the project. But there's still a lot of work to be done before the city is ready to ask the province for a big financial commitment.
"I will be doing more than my share to advocate for support when the time comes," he said.
MP and minister responsible for FedNor Greg Rickford said the centre could mean big things not only for Thunder Bay but the entire region. It has the opportunity for major economic development and the federal government is looking to invest in the right projects at the right time with the right partners.
"I think this fits the test on every level," Rickford said.
The federal government's investment in the project shows it's committed to where the city is at in the process. When Thunder Bay is ready to move ahead and wants the events centre to be a priority, that's when discussions would begin.
"We're not there yet," he said.