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$22 million funding ask for indoor turf facility rejected

The City of Thunder Bay’s application for over $22 million in federal funding to support a multi-use indoor turf facility has been rejected.
Multi use indoor turf rendering - outdoor
This concept for a multi-use indoor turf centre may never be realized, after the City of Thunder Bay was not approved for $22.4 million in federal funding.

THUNDER BAY – The City of Thunder Bay will not score $22.4 million in federal funding that leaders had hoped could salvage plans for a multi-use indoor turf centre.

The city announced the news in a release Tuesday morning, saying its application, submitted in July of 2021 to Infrastructure Canada's Green and Inclusive Community Buildings (GICB) program, had not been approved.

The funds would have covered half the cost of a design estimated at $44.8 million, a total increased slightly to meet the GICB program's requirements buildings be designed to net-zero emissions standards.

“The GICB funding was in high demand, receiving considerable interest from communities and organizations across Canada, with hundreds of projects requesting billions in funding,” said city manager Norm Gale.

A letter from Infrastructure Canada that was shared with TBnewswatch pointed to high demand for funding, and no specific features of the city's application, in explaining the rejection.

To be eligible, new construction projects must be built to net zero emissions standards, as well as meeting accessibility standards.

Projects that met the criteria were evaluated based on shovel readiness, the degree to which they would serve “high-needs communities,” and accessibility and environmental features,

The nearly year-long wait for an answer on the funding brought decision-making to a halt on the indoor turf facility, which is envisioned to host soccer, Ultimate Frisbee, cricket, lacrosse, and more.

It also meant the city has kept several proposals received from the private sector, which it called for in hopes of finding a cheaper solution, under wraps for months. City council directed administration to report back on those proposals after an answer was received on the GICB application.

The indoor turf facility is identified as a priority in the city's strategic plan, and has been championed by Mayor Bill Mauro and other councillors as a key step to expand recreation opportunities and attract and retain young professionals and families to the city.

Its price tag has proven a stumbling block, however, with council narrowly rejecting awarding a $39 million tender to build a design at Chapples Park last year.

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