Councillor Jeff Serran made a suggestion during last night’s City Council meeting that demonstrates a thawing of relations with the Near North District School Board.
Serran brought forward the notion that if the community hub currently located on Gertrude Street is not going to be considered as a potential site for a new arena (the arena committee has stated this), then maybe land surrounding West Ferris Intermediate and Secondary School would make a suitable replacement for community-minded West Ferris residents.
This is an idea that has been bandied about by members of the NNDSB, notably Chair David Thompson. Thompson recently extended an olive branch to City Council and has long maintained that community partnerships are the wave of the future when it comes to the school board’s and municipal government’s relations.
Mayor Al McDonald, in turn, has said that the City of North Bay is open to discussing potential business dealings with all community partners. Municipal laws forbid any sort of backroom meetings, so a public forum is the only option. Councillor Mark King touched on this at the meeting, saying that he would not engage in “coffee shop talk,” about the future of the arena, insinuating that a formal setting is required.
Councillor Daryl Vaillancourt, who is a member of the arena committee, voted against a motion to include the West Ferris school grounds for consideration, but not because he does not believe it is viable. He too would prefer proper channels are accessed that he says should include a formal resolution from the school board indicating a desire to explore such a scenario.
The original motion regarding the arena committee had been tabled to seek an extension for geotechnical studies to be completed and to delve deeper into the possible locations for either one pad or two pad configurations. The committee has received an extension to December 31.
It seems one more location has been added to the short-list, which also includes land adjacent to the Steve Omischl Complex. There has been chatter that the early Memorial Gardens geotechnical returns show that the soil in Thomson Park may not be suitable.
The (several) million dollar question is: can the City and the NNDSB work together?