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VIDEO: A new documentary builds a case for the Thunder Bay Conservatory (2 Photos)

Filmmaker Torin Gunnell produced "A Promise Unfulfilled"

THUNDER BAY — A filmmaker who produced a documentary about Thunder Bay's Centennial Botanical Conservatory is also supporting an online petition to convince city council to keep it open.

Torin Gunnell's 47-minute video A Promise Unfulfilled was posted to YouTube and Facebook on Monday evening.

Its release comes just weeks before city council is expected to meet next to consider whether to accept a consultant's recommendation to close the conservatory as part of a series of municipal cost-cutting measures.

Canadian Union of Public Employees local 87, which represents city workers, has been circulating a petition against the closure.

In coordination with the union and the Friends of the Thunder Bay Conservatory, Gunnell has now started an online version of the same petition.

He hopes the video will persuade more people to sign.

Gunnell was approached to take on the documentary by the Friends of the Thunder Bay Conservatory.

He set out, he said, to include a variety of perspectives, but the video largely endorses retaining the conservatory as a key city asset.

Gunnell said it was hard to find participants willing to declare their outright support for its closure.

"They were relatively tight-lipped about what they said. It was difficult to have someone go on the record and share an opposing view," he told Tbnewswatch.

In the documentary, Councillor Mark Bentz notes that "It will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in operating costs. It will cost millions of dollars to refurbish. These are things that citizens have to weigh moving forward."

Gunnell said the title of the documentary comes from a 2012 council meeting where, in a recorded vote, council placed the conservatory at the top of its capital asset priority list.

"Whether you're on the side of keeping it, or closing it for good, I hope the documentary will educate people on the good that it does, because once you close the conservatory, it's very unlikely we will ever get one like it again," he stated when he launched the project in July.

Gary Rinne

About the Author: Gary Rinne

Born and raised in Thunder Bay, Gary started part-time at Tbnewswatch in 2016 after retiring from the CBC
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