Thunder Bay

Thunder Bay city councillor wants to hear private sector proposals for turf sports facility

A Thunder Bay City Councillor wants to hear private sector proposals for a new turf sports facility.

Mark Bentz to table resolution tonight directing administration to start expression of interest process

A Thunder Bay city councillor will table a resolution on Monday directing city administration to accept proposals about a new turf sports facility from the private sector and other organizations. (Matt Prokopchuk/CBC)

A Thunder Bay city councillor wants to hear private sector proposals for a new turf sports facility.

In March, councillors voted not to award a tender for the project; that version of the facility would have cost about $46 million, and been entirely publicly funded.

The project is still alive, however, as council earlier voted to construct the facility, a decision that remains in effect.

Coun. Mark Bentz said since the March vote, council has heard a few unsolicited pitches from members of the private sector, and other organizations, which would like to be involved in the project.

However, due to earlier resolutions passed by city council, city administration has been unable to speak with the private sector, or consider any unsolicited proposals.

But Bentz hopes to change that approach through a resolution he'll be tabling at Monday's meeting.

"I'm proposing that council give direction to our administration to re-engage with the private sector and other organizations that wish to partner with us to provide indoor turf capacity," Bentz said. "I believe that's a solution that would improve efficiencies, lower costs and develop partnerships, which I believe the community is looking for."

If approved by council, the resolution would direct administration to begin an expression of interest process, which would "invite proposals from the private sector and other interested organizations" for the proposed facility; both short-term and long-term proposals would be considered.

In addition, the resolution would allow consideration to be given toward building the facility in a location other than Chapples Park, although that would remain the preferred spot.

Bentz noted that his resolution wouldn't prevent the city from funding the project publicly in the future.

"Everything should be on the table at this point," he said. "This is just going to provide some other options, maybe different types of structures, maybe different locations."