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While I support new positive investment in the revitalization and progress of our city, this project is not a yes or no answer because it has many components.
One area of concern for me is that unless managed properly, the Event Centre has the potential to be a drain on our city through an unsustainable operating subsidy and become another Casino. In fact, the impact on the hospitality and other related businesses like the Hotels, Community Auditorium, Service Clubs, Fort William Historical Park, etc. does not seem to have been taken into account in Phase 2 of the consultants' report.
I have expressed such concerned in a guest column on the local daily newspaper and the feedback from the community indicated that many shared similar concerns.
The article can be viewed in its entirety by clicking here.
Phase 3 report and public comments from Mayor and Council have somewhat addressed this important point that a collaborative agreement is needed with the Auditorium and other local businesses so that the whole city of Thunder Bay would receive a net positive economic return from such a large investment in our community.
If the funding from other orders of government is in place, a guaranteed minimum price (design build) is validated, and parking issues are dealt with, I would support the project. Until such issues are resolved I will remain vigilant to ensure that the interest of all taxpayers and the community of Thunder Bay are represented.