THUNDER BAY – A federal funding application will have a significant impact in determining whether the city can go ahead with two long-awaited capital projects.
Thunder Bay’s proposed 2019 budget, which was made publicly available on Thursday, allocates nearly $7 million to the rehabilitation of the Boulevard Lake Dam.
In 2015, the project cost was estimated at $5 million.
Efforts have been underway since 2012 to begin the process of repairing the century-old dam, which engineering studies have indicated has suffered significant deterioration. The city has recently released the project’s environmental assessment report, which follows a previous study that was later deemed to be insufficient.
City administration has turned to Ottawa in an effort to get the vast majority of that amount covered by senior levels of government.
“The Boulevard Dam rehabilitation is a priority infrastructure project for the city this year,” city treasurer Linda Evans said. “We have submitted an application to the federal government for $6 million of that $7 million and we will await the outcome of that submission.”
City engineer Mike Vogrig earlier this week said the project could be tendered in 2019 with preparatory work being done this year in advance of construction beginning in 2020.
Coun. Andrew Foulds, who represents the Current River ward where the dam is located, had grown frustrated with the many delays that have set the project back.
“Boulevard Lake and the dam are not Current River ward issues. These are city facilities that impact quality of life for the entire city,” Foulds said.
“The fact that it is budgeted for, there is a schedule, pleases me a great deal. I’m very much looking forward to the work being done. I know it’s going to be disruptive when it’s done but I’m hopeful that when it is complete it will be something we can all be proud of.”
If the city doesn’t get the sought after federal funding, the third phase of the Golf Links Road and Junot Avenue widening will be deferred. That project is included in the 2019 capital budget with an allocation of $3.7 million.
In the budget, city administration noted that they will report back on recommended sources of funding to address the remaining $3.3 million shortfall.
The preliminary capital budget also includes a $5 million allocation for an indoor turf facility, with a description that the project “is meant to support the development of a multi-use indoor turf facility through a partnership approach.”
“It is a project that is out as an expression of interest right now and it’s just incorporated in the budget to facilitate that partnership,” Evans said.
The description also outlines that it will support the continuation of the expression of interest process to confirm a recommended partner and project.
Major repaving projects planned for 2019 include Franklin Street between Arthur and Walsh streets, Dawson Road from Strand Avenue to Fassina Street, Victoria Avenue between Lillie and Edward streets, Donald Street between Vickers and May streets, and James Street between Walsh and Frederica streets.
The preliminary budget also indicates that the continuation of the first phase of the Balmoral Street reconstruction project will remain on hold until 2020, with $4.9 forecasted for that year to complete from Hewitson Street to Alloy Drive. The 2021 projection has $2.5 million earmarked for the second phase, which would extend from Alloy Drive to Central Avenue.