North Bay’s first town hall meeting had two presenters in addition to three written letters to councillors.

The virtual meeting held over Zoom took place on Thursday, and while there weren’t a lot of people who took part, Deputy Mayor Tanya Vrebosch was pleased with who she heard from.

“They were all new people that I hadn’t heard from before,” she noted. “It was nice to see a different variety of people.”

The town hall was the first of two that will be held this fall as part of the new procedural bylaw which was adapted by the city last year. The meetings were added to provide the public with an opportunity to bring forward any issues about the municipality, including the 2021 budget.

The first presentation during Thursday’s meeting was from a member of the community named Gemma who is calling for more to be done to address systemic racism in North Bay. Gemma brought forward issues of workplace training on racism, adding that there are systemic barriers in place for people of colour. She did not give specific examples in the city.

Vrebosch commended Gemma during the meeting and recognizes the need to address the issue in the community.

“We are a predominantly white community and it’s about time we have the conversation about racism and discrimination and what we do with it when we encounter it,” she said. “I think these conversations need to be had and some training to businesses and organizations on how to deal with racism in the workplace.”

The second presentation was from a community member named Marty, who wanted to see more outdoor skating rinks built this winter because of the pandemic’s effect on children’s sports.

Last year, Lee Park was converted into an outdoor rink. Marty said that the city should expand on the Lee Park facility by adding skating ‘trails’, which would give skaters an alternative to the traditional rink. He also suggested adding skating surfaces behind Memorial Gardens and at the Steve Omeschl Sports Complex.

Vrebosch says that as far as she knows, the Lee Park skating rink should still be in place this winter, but says that there will be a process if they wish to add trails as Marty suggested.

“Adding more – that’s where we go through budget discussions to see if we’re able to do anything else. And if we do, is there a cost with it or can we do more non-cost options,” Vrebosch explained.

The Deputy Mayor is on board with potentially converting the Steve Omeschl Sports Complex into an outdoor rink, saying that it is part of future plans.

The next town hall meeting will be later this fall in the midst of budget discussions. Vrebosch urges anyone who has concerns about the 2021 budget to send them to [email protected]ca