Thunder Bay

Thunder Bay program and services review recommends sweeping cuts, sale of some recreational facilities

A new core programs and services review report to be presented to Thunder Bay City Council on Monday recommends sweeping cost reductions, including the closure and sale of several recreational facilities.

Report also advises city get out of private child care, sell stadium, shut conservatory and golf courses

A core services review report, which recommends the closure of a number of city-owned facilities, will be presented to Thunder Bay City Council on Monday. (Matt Prokopchuk/CBC)

A new core programs and services review report to be presented to Thunder Bay City Council on Monday recommends sweeping cost reductions, including the closure and sale of several recreational facilities.

The final core services report was completed by consultant Grant Thornton LLP for the city, and makes 45 recommendations to reduce city costs, and increase efficiency, the report states.

Among those recommendations are:

  • The city consider discontinuing its involvement in the private child care program
  • Sell Port Arthur Stadium and the Jumbo Gardens Community Centre
  • End the lease with the Vale Community Centre
  • Close and potentially re-purpose the Boulevard Lake Beach
  • Reduce services in "underutilized" areas of the Canada Game Complex
  • Reduce Muskeg Express operating hours
  • Close underutilized areas of Chippewa
  • Close the Botanical Conservatory
  • Reduce the number of outdoor skating rinks by eight
  • Close both city-owned golf courses
  • Implement automated water meter readers to increase efficiency
  • Dissolve the Sister Cities Committee

Sandra Nunn of the Friends of the Conservatory group said she was "horrified" by the suggestion to close the facility.

"I just cannot believe that that would be their final recommendation," she told CBC News. "The conservatory is so well-loved by the citizens of Thunder Bay. It's a legacy project from generations past."

"The citizens of Thunder Bay have demonstrated for many years that they don't want it closed, that they love it," Nunn said, adding she hopes that council will not support the recommendation.

The report also makes a number of internal recommendations around the city's information technology, fleet management, and human resources departments.

Not all of the recommendations include information as to how much the city would save annually if the recommended change was made, but some do.

 For example, closing Port Arthur Stadium would save the city about $113,000 a year, the report states, and the city could save about $230,000 a year by divesting itself of the conservatory.

Closing both golf courses would result in savings of about $100,000 per year, while eliminating the Sister Cities Committee would save the city about $18,000 a year.

The report also recommends the city maintain its current number of campgrounds, as they are profitable, and keep its north and south divisions intact, as there are cost benefits to maintaining operations on both sides of the city.

The report also recommends the city improve communication with the public regarding roads, so staff have a better understanding of the public's concerns.

The report also recommends increasing the city's waste diversion rate, which is "very low compared to other municipalities."

The report will be presented to city council at the June 22 meeting, but is currently available on the city's website

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