Fort William Gardens should be multipurpose: consultant

A consultant says the best use for Thunder Bay’s Fort William Gardens is as a large multipurpose facility.
If Thunder Bay's Fort William Gardens becomes a multi-purpose facility, the ice would be taken out. Ice users in the city would have other options, as explained by this information sheet presented to the public Tuesday night. (Jeff Walters/CBC)

A consultant says the best use for Thunder Bay’s Fort William Gardens is as a large multipurpose facility.

Conrad Boychuk told a small group Tuesday night at the Gardens it would be the best option for the building, if a new events centre is built. The facility could be used for basketball, soccer, a running track, an indoor dog park or farmers market.

By taking out existing seating, the floor space would become about 36,000 square feet, he noted.

Four options are being considered for Thunder Bay's Fort William Gardens. Option 1, pictured above, involves the removal of the ice surface and rink boards. (Jeff Walters/CBC)

“We are … almost going to maximize the flat floor area … where almost all of the seating is gone, with the exception of the seating over the curling club,” Boychuk said.

Moveable, bleacher-style seating would be used instead.

Slightly more than a dozen people came out to hear the consultant’s suggestions.

A board member of the adjoining Fort William Curling Club said he's pleased the plans call for leaving the curling ice alone.

"We just don't want our curling facility to be hampered by what goes on here,” Dave Forester said.

Boychuk said he will make a final presentation on the best use for the Gardens to the public in April.

About a dozen people heard Tuesday night about potential options for the Fort William Gardens if the proposed events centre is built. The city reports the 63-year-old arena is nearing the end of its life as a spectator facility. (Matt Prokopchuk/CBC)

"[We want to] get as many people flowing through ... the facility as possible,” he said.

“And that really means: don't make it cater to a single user group … make it cater or accommodate to a community at large."

Changes will only be made to the Gardens if a new events centre is built.

The cost to demolish the Gardens is about $3 million, while the land is worth about $300,000.

Boychuck is expected to present these proposed plans to Thunder Bay city council on Monday night.

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