THUNDER BAY -- RegenMed is asking the city for an extension that would result in the non-profit biomedical facility only starting to repay more than $500,000 in loans nearly a decade after that money was received.
The Lake Superior Centre for Regenerative Medicine has requested Thunder Bay city council approve a two-year delay to start its repayment schedule in 2021.
The city had provided three interest-free loans totalling $550,000 in 2012 and 2013. A repayment schedule of nearly $5,000 monthly installments for 10 years was scheduled to begin at the beginning of this month.
Coun. Brian McKinnon, the chair of the city's intergovernmental affairs committee, brought forward the request at Monday night's meeting and noted the city's long history with RegenMed.
"It's a local company that is on the verge of greatness. I'm going to keep saying that," McKinnon said. "We have worked long and hard at this, about going on 10 years now. They had borrowed some money from us and did promise to pay it back except they can't meet their payment date this particular April."
McKinnon said the initial installment scheduled for this month has been deferred.
Mayor Bill Mauro, who during his time as Thunder Bay-Atikokan MPP and a cabinet minister within the former Liberal provincial government announced last year the facility would become Ontario's tissue processing centre, said he also had a "long and somewhat torturous history" with RegenMed.
"They have the potential for some incredibly good news for the city and I would remark has been a good news story to this point," Mauro said. "It looked like it had the potential to become very much larger in terms of its significant positive impact on the community."
RegenMed is the province's designated bone and connective tissue processing centre, while heart valve and skin processing are done at facilities in Toronto. That announced expansion would result in preparation, storage and distribution of all bone, skin, heart valve and connective tissue for transplant purposes being done at the centre.
In January, RegenMed officials said that expansion was awaiting a government review being conducted by the current Progressive Conservative government.
Mauro had suggested the meeting go into closed session but council instead voted in favour of his proposal to refer the matter back to city administration.
The city had also given RegenMed a $500,000 non-repayable contribution in July 2011.