The federal and Ontario governments have given a boost to Thunder Bay's plans for an event centre.

They're sharing more than $1 million in funding for design work on the project.

Kenora MPP and Minister of State Greg Rickford joined Ontario's Minister of Northern Development Michael Gravelle for the announcement Thursday at Prince Arthur's Landing.

Mayor Keith Hobbs called the government investment a good sign for the project.

"For them to buy into phase three and continue this feasibility study is big news,” he said.

“They believe in the project, they both said it's good for the region, it's great for the city's economy and it's going to create jobs." 

The money will go toward detailed design and schematics for the event centre.

The proposed building site is the property around the Water Street bus terminal.

Supporting the region

greg rickford

Greg Rickford, Minister of State, speaks at a Thunder Bay news conference on Thursday concerning a government funding announcement for the proposed event centre. (Josh Lynn/CBC)

Rickford said that, as minister of State for Science and Technology, as well as FedNor, and the minister responsible for the Ring of Fire, he’s “been in Thunder Bay with certain frequency supporting economic development. We have a responsibility to the city, but I have a particular eye to how it can support the region." 

He noted that “as the member of parliament for Kenora, we're doing some important great things out there, scalable to the size of our communities. But we know Thunder Bay's success depends on our success and our success depends on Thunder Bay." 

Gravelle added he’s excited about the project.

“There are many opportunities that are passing by Thunder Bay because we don't have the facilities, so when the city began a number of years ago to do the work on the Thunder Bay event centre, I found myself, as a citizen and a resident, excited about the opportunity,” he said.

"When one is trying to focus … on how we can continue [to] grow the economy and create more jobs in the communities … clearly this project has that as its focus."


  • An earlier version of this story said the money is for design work on the arena and convention centre. A spokesperson for FedNor says its contribution is not for the arena portion, but rather only for the convention centre component.
    Feb 21, 2014 1:30 PM ET