THUNDER BAY - Proponents of the new art gallery on the waterfront are encouraged by recent approvals from a governmental ministry on soil remediation at the site and remain hopeful the project will break ground by the end of the year.
Last month, the Ministry of Environment, Conservation, and Parks approved mitigation measures to address soil contamination concerns at the site of the new art gallery on the waterfront.
“What this approval means is there won’t be a huge cost around the remediation of the site and soon we will be able to proceed,” said Sharon Godwin, executive director of the Thunder Bay Art Gallery. “Site requisition will be done in the summer and we will be able to move ahead.”
The mitigation measures that have been approved include concrete walkways, asphalt trails, and new soil placed over top of contaminated soil.
The property, which is located at the southern end of Prince Arthur’s Landing, had a long history of different industrial uses. Before the project could proceed, a risk assessment of the site needed to be completed and mitigation measures approved.
“Part of what we had to do was a record of site condition,” Godwin said. “To obtain that our environmental engineers had to go back through history and determine what was on the site.”
The cost of the mitigation measures still needs to be worked out, according to Godwin.
“To come up with those costs at this moment of bringing in soil, we still have to work through a lot of those details,” she said. “It’s certainly at the low end of what has been presented in the past and something we have worked toward funding.”
With the mitigation measures now approved, the project can move into tendering and securing a contractor, which Godwin said should take place this summer.
Godwin added those involved in the project have been working very hard at moving it forward and she is pleased with the progress despite restrictions due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“I’m actually very happy with how it is still moving along,” she said. “There might be a two week delay here and there, but people are really committed to getting this done. None of us know how long this will go on, there may be some impacts, but we hope to go forward this summer and get to tendering and potentially get a contractor on.”
The $30 million project has received funding from the federal and provincial governments, with the city of Thunder Bay contributing $5 million.
A capital campaign has already raised more than $2.5 million of its $3.5 million goal from the community but due to COVID-19 it has been put on hold.
“It just doesn’t feel right to be out there,” Godwin said. “There are a lot of people out there still considering. We will be starting again. We have had some good success.”
Godwin added that it is important to note that this project is a Thunder Bay Art Gallery project, not a project of the city of Thunder Bay.
“The city is definitely supporting us and they are giving us some funding around $5 million, but all the rest of the funding we have brought in from other levels of government or raised from the community,” she said. “People really understand what stimulus this is going to be and how this is going to be such an asset to our community.”