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Deputy mayor challenges arena “naysayers”

Deputy mayor Tanya Vrebosch has taken to Facebook to defend the city’s building of a new twin-pad community centre. 

Vrebosch, who also serves as the city’s budget chief, made a lengthy post to her page on Wednesday, with the aim of proving the community centre will be more than “just an arena”.

“We need to open our minds to what a COMMUNITY Centre really is and take advantage of the possibilities,” Vrebosch emphasized in the post. 

Deputy mayor Tanya Vrebosch’s Facebook post defending the new community centre has seen 39 comments from supporters and opposition alike. (Photo supplied by City of North Bay)

The councillor cited her childhood growing up in East Ferris, where she would regularly attend community events at the local arena despite her not playing sports. 

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“I went there for the Carnival, the sports shows, the Church picnic, weddings, anniversaries…line dancing classes with my aunt and so many more activities and social community events,” she wrote.

In the post, the longtime councillor expresses her dismay toward people trying to “derail” the project that has already been delayed six years. 

“We would have saved a few million had we done this project 6 years ago,” she stated. 

Vrebosch also takes issue with people using the figure of the arena costing $50 million, as the number represents the cost of the project with interest included. 

“When you buy a house for $250k, do you say its value is $300k+ after financing costs?” she questioned. 

The deputy mayor welcomed a civil discussion in the comment section of her post, replying to some who are not on-board with the community centre.

One commenter wondered why the city couldn’t hold a referendum to let the citizens decide the fate of the construction project.

Vrebosch replied that a referendum would cost the city more money, underlining that council simply has to make a decision one way or another. 

Another commenter wondered if the city has explored other options to increase tourism aside from the community centre. 

The councillor responded by highlighting how North Bay has missed out on hosting large conferences due to a lack of venues to accommodate such events. She added taxes won’t go down either way if the community centre does or doesn’t get built. 

“We can cut this project but it’s not going to lower your taxes. The only way to truly being down taxes is to grow our assessment,” she wrote. 

Vrebosch also touched on how the new community centre would be more accessible for people with disabilities, especially for the North Bay Ice Breakers para hockey team. She also noted how the city’s current arenas are approaching the end of their useful life. 

“I am not tied to any sport and this is not a vanity project.   It’s proper planning to replace failing infrastructure,” Vrebosch wrote. 

Construction costs for the community centre have already been factored into the 2021 budget, which is awaiting final council approval. 

The actual cost of the community centre is still unknown, as council still has to direct it to go to tender. Current estimates are putting the tab around $42 million, of which $5 million has already been spent on planning. 

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