A group of Thunder Bay residents wants the location of the proposed arena and convention centre to be put to a vote outside council chambers.

The citizens’ group that supports the Innova Park site held a public meeting Tuesday night to drum up support for a plebiscite.

About 40 people filled the small auditorium at Waverley Library, including people like Terry Ciccarelli, who said the public should have a stronger voice in the multiplex issue.

"This process is being moved ahead fairly quickly, that the city administration is essentially kicking the taxpayer to the curb," he said.

The group has rallied after consultants hired by the city of Thunder Bay recommended that a location in the north core, near the waterfront, makes the best economic sense.

More input needed

"They're going by consultants, and a lot of the consultants don't live here," said Monica Kashak, who attended the meeting.

"So I think that we should have some say too."

Another attendee said he felt the same way.

"I just think the public need a little more input into this whole process," Bernie MacNeil said.

"I'm a hundred per cent in favour of replacing the Fort William Gardens, but I have problems with how this has evolved."


Ray Smith recently organized a forum to talk about the location of the proposed event centre for Thunder Bay. (Matt Prokopchuk/CBC)

The turnout of supporters was pleasing to Ray Smith, who organized the forum.

"[It] was pretty good, considering it's such a bad [weather] night and lack of funds for advertising too," he said.

Smith added he wants to see more of what he calls "concerned taxpayers" at the city's public meeting on the multiplex next month.

"I think it's time the mayor, council and administration started listening to taxpayers who have to pay for these enormous dreams," Smith said. "They gotta start listening to us."

Smith said his group has conducted a non-scientific survey that shows strong public support for Innova Park as the site.

The city pegs the cost for the event centre to be about $106 million — but Smith said he thinks it will escalate closer to $200 million.