The public display area of the Thunder Bay conservatory will remain open, but the facility's greenhouses are slated to be torn down this year, says the city's director of engineering and operations.

The greenhouses are at the end of life and will no longer be used to grow bedding plants for the city's gardens, said Kayla Dixon, adding those flowers will be procured from other sources.

The city is budgeting to build new greenhouses, but construction won't begin until 2017 at the earliest because the design of the production greenhouse must be assessed alongside the conservatory display area, she said.

A financial commitment comes as good news to the chair of the Friends of the Thunder Bay Conservatory, Kathleen Ott.

'Enable the conservatory to keep going'

However, she said she is still looking for assurances the new greenhouses will be attached to the conservatory.

"Because that is the only thing that is going to enable the conservatory to keep going forward," said Ott.

Kathleen Ott

Kathleen Ott, chair of the Friends of the Thunder Bay Conservatory says the greenhouses are used to grow bedding plants for city gardens, to propagate new plant material for the conservtory and as a place to treat and nurture sick plants from the facility. (Kathleen Ott)

She also expressed concerns about the time frame for demolition and reconstruction of the greenhouses.

"We're kind of at a loss as to why it would take two years to do that," said Ott.

Dixon said the city needs the time in order to do an assessment, and determine what kind of new facility is required.

"How do we grow things, and what do we grow. So the types and numbers of plants will be looked at. Should the city be looking at more native plants for storm water management, should we be looking at perennials," she said.

Ott said she thinks some of those questions could be answered through more consultation with conservatory staff, and members of her group.

"There needs to be a roundtable discussion here so that everybody gets on the same page. And we just want to see the conservatory properly fixed and the growing greenhouses rebuilt so that they are more efficient and it doesn't cost as much to grow the plants," said Ott.

The Friends of the Thunder Bay Conservatory will be making a deputation at city budget meetings on February 9.