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City’s proposed Community and Recreation Centre going to tender

By the slimmest of margins, North Bay is going to tender with the proposed multi-use Community and Recreation Centre project. 

Council supported the move 6-5 in a recorded vote. 

It’s estimated the project, including twin ice pads, will cost about $52 million with $25.7 million coming from the federal government. 

Councillor Chris Mayne was one of the yes votes. 

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“I’m pleased to have reached this point and I appreciate this is still part of the process,” he says. “But, moving to tender is what will give us the final [dollar] amount that will give us the opportunity to make the ultimate decision on.” 

Councillor Mark King voted no saying a number of contractors have looked at the design and are upset the city would ever consider it. 

He also says there is no other design like it that he could find, other than one in California.  

“Those that are supporting this particular design going forward, stand by,” he says. ‘Because, boy oh boy, change orders will be the order of the day because it has never been built before.” 

Deputy Mayor Maggie Horsfield, who supported the decision to proceed to tender, highlighted a list of ten non-side-by-side arenas built in Canada that the city CAO had provided to council. 

Mayor Peter Chirico voted no to going to tender. 

He says he’s never been a supporter of the Omischl Sports Complex location, but also says affordability is a factor. 

Chirico says even with nearly $26 million coming from the federal government, that still leaves $26 million left for the taxpayer to cover. 

“$16.7 [million] is coming out of reserves and $9.1 [million] is going to be debt that we’re going to have to live with,” he says. “So from affordability, I’m not in support of it at this time.” 

Another no vote was cast by Councillor Jamie Lowery, who says he doesn’t believe it’s a functional design and handcuffs the city in a number of ways when it comes to programming.

“I think the larger thing is when you look at how the actual facility works, to me, it’s mindboggling that we are developing a project that staff are already developing workaround solutions for some of the conflicts that they know are going to be in this community centre,” he says.

Councillor Tanya Vrebosch voted yes.

“If you’re not the experts if you’re not the people that have the degrees and all that stuff that have the actual documents, not just somebody who could be a structural engineer but doesn’t actually have the documents to be able to make a sound decision and is just sitting at the coffee club, then sorry that’s not the opinion that I’m looking to,” she says. “I’m looking at the people that we’ve paid money to that have given us the documents and that were going over those things.”

Councillor Justine Mallah, Community Services Chair, voted yes for a number of reasons including the federal funding piece and being able to move on to more pressing societal issues. 

She also highlighted that this is not the final decision to actually build the facility. 

“We can turn away if the numbers come back massively higher than expected,” says Mallah. “We won’t know until we go there.” 

Other supporters were councillors Mac Bain and Lana Mitchell while councillors Gary Gardiner and Sara Inch voted against the motion.

During the earlier committee meeting, councillor Mayne said the tendering process could take about 8-10 weeks.

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