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Re-purposing existing buildings in Thunder Bay can pay off, Ontario architect says

The relationship between architecture and the economy was the focus of a special presentation to the Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday.

Thunder Bay urged to include older buildings, as well as industry, in its waterfront development plans

Toon Dreessen, president of Ontario Association of Architects. (Jeff Walters/CBC)

It's possible to stimulate the city's economy through architecture. That's according to Toon Dreessen, the president of the Ontario Association of Architects. 5:34

The relationship between architecture and the economy was the focus of a special presentation to the Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday.

The president of the Ontario Association of Architects said architecture can help enhance the local economy through master plan developments, such as the waterfront.

Toon Dreessen said that development shows how older buildings can be incorporated into new developments and "those historic buildings play a role in our cultural fabric."

"When we think of historic neighbourhoods that were demolished — and we see photographs of beautiful old Victorian neighbourhoods that were completely demolished — we see that that's a real loss," he said.

 
Re-purposing existing buildings into new developments is becoming more common, the president of the Ontario Association of Architects says. (Jeff Walters/CBC)

Dreessen said it's becoming more and more common to re-purpose existing buildings, instead of starting every development from scratch.

Some of the discussion during the presentation focused on incorporating existing buildings into new developments, like the waterfront.

Dreessen said it's crucial the city include the baggage building, as well as industry into its waterfront development plans.

Even grain elevators, as industrial as they are, can be integrated into the redevelopment of the landscape, an Ontario architect says. (Jeff Walters/CBC)

"Even things like the grain elevators — they're industrial hulks and they're old and stuff — but they're beautiful and they play a role in our cultural framework. And, integrating them into our landscape, I think, is incredibly important," he said.

He said developing a core area, and creating mixed-use communities is key.

Retail, tourism facilities, places to play, live and work all attract people and "really help drive long-term sustainable development for an area," Dreessen said.

The Mariner's Hall at Prince Arthur's Landing is an example of a good building to include in new developments along Thunder Bay's waterfront, the president of the Ontario Association of Architects says. (Jeff Walters/CBC)

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