Thunder Bay city council will consider program and services review recommendations in September
Report recommends closing or selling several city facilities
Decisions on moving forward with recommendations to cut city programs and services in Thunder Bay could come in September.
Thunder Bay city councillors weighed in at Monday night's council meeting on the report from its program and service review.
The report, prepared by the accounting firm Grant Thornton, recommends numerous possible cost-saving measures for the city, including selling Port Arthur Stadium and the Jumbo Gardens Community Centre; closing both city-owned golf courses, and discontinuing its involvement in the private child care program.
It also proposes closing the Centennial Botanical Conservatory and cutting the sister cities committee.
Coun. Aldo Ruberto told the consultants that he was disappointed with their recommendation about the conservatory.
"I guess I was hoping you'd come back and say, 'You know what? That's one option. Here's another option: put some money into it. Do this. Get some better advertising, promotion, a few other activities involved. Maybe find a partner, and it could be a viable tourist attraction," Ruberto said.
Anthea Pinto of Grant Thornton replied that the firm did consider possible revenue streams for the conservatory such as charging admission – it would need to charge nearly $10 per visit to cover its costs, according to the report – and possibly adding a coffee shop or gift shop, but she said the conservatory is one of the worst performing facilities in the city, generating a net loss of around $620,000.
"In light of COVID-19, in light of the current financial performance, our overall recommendation was to close it," she said.
Coun. Peng You asked why the sister cities committee, which he serves on, was on the chopping block.
Grant Thornton representative Sanjay Desai replied that the firm wasn't proposing eliminating the committee but rather questioning the number of people serving on it and the number of sister cities Thunder Bay maintains relationships with.
Councillors will consult the public about the proposed cuts between now and September.
The report is available on the city's web site.