Put Thunder Bay events centre on hold, residents protest

Most of the roughly 100 people who showed up to a meeting Tuesday night at the Mary J.L. Black library say they are against the events centre proposed for Thunder Bay.
More than 100 people attended the Tuesday night meeting at the Mary JL Black Library to discuss the proposed Thunder Bay events centre. (Jeff Walters/CBC)

Most of the roughly 100 people who showed up to a meeting Tuesday night at the Mary J.L. Black library say they are against the events centre proposed for Thunder Bay.

The meeting — attended mostly by retirees — was supposed to deal with putting the construction of a new events centre to a plebiscite.

Jeff Caldwell was one of the few people to stick to the agenda.
Thunder Bay resident Jeff Caldwell tells people at a Tuesday night meeting that the proposed events centre needs to be put to a public vote. (Jeff Walters/CBC)

"Let's have a vote on it. Come on council, let's show you represent the people, let us decide where we're going to build it, and if we want to put it there,” he said.

But a group called the Concerned Taxpayers want the centre put on hold.

The chair of the group, Ray Smith, said the city can't afford it, and he doesn't like the location in the downtown north core.

"About four years from now, let's see where we're at. Then, if we're in a position to build at some point, let's do it at Innova Park,” Smith said.

More 'homework to be done'

The topics frequently changed over the course of the meeting to cover parking issues, tax rates and the feasibility of an AHL team.

Maryann Baarts-Matson pointed out that to have the events centre “actually located downtown in Port Arthur” is questionable. “Has anybody ever tried to go to a restaurant and tried to park around there?”

Mayor Keith Hobbs, who was on the receiving end of many questions and concerns, remarked that now is not the right time for a plebiscite on the events centre.
Ray Smith, president of Thunder Bay's Concerned Taxpayers group, says any decision on an events centre for the city needs to be put on hold until the city has more money to put toward the project. (Jeff Walters/CBC)

"There's a lot more homework to be done,” he said.

“What question do you want me to ask you? What if you ask the question on a plebiscite, 'Do you want an events centre,' And the answer is yes?"

The Concerned Taxpayers plans to hold another open house on April 1.

Hobbs said he'll be at that meeting, and would like the chance to speak.

Ray Smith said he can arrange for that, but also asked for the city manager and other councillors to attend the meeting.


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