10. Construction started on the marina condo’s and hotel. Construction got underway in February which helped to calm the rumours that they would never happen. This was a portion of the private sectors 65 million dollar contribution to this project. Construction is well underway and building 1 should be completed in August 2014.
9. Murder rate drops – Thunder bay murder rate will drop in 2013 from 7 the previous year to 2. This should help us to lose the title of murder capital of Canada and reduce our standings in the violent crime rankings.
8. Enhanced Infrastructure Renewal Plan starts to show progress – Raising the infrastructure budget by the 1.5% helped to reduce the infrastructure deficit plaguing the city. If the next council continues the program the city will be spending the proper amount of money on infrastructure by 2017.
7. Habib plants a seed – Habib brought forward his ideas for what the downtown south core should look like. It was met with praise from city administration and city council who were in attendance. If his plan proceeds as he envisions then the downtown south core will change by 2015-2016.
6. City Hall Sounds – a new program to bring music and food vendors together to give those in the south core a little different atmosphere. It was so well received that it will be returning next year and should likely see some expansion. This is just one project in a growing number in the cultural portfolio that is helping to make our city more welcoming to citizens and others.
5. Power Generation stays online – While it wasn’t the preferred option of the Northwest Energy Task force it was still a win. The conversation to natural gas was cancelled in 2011 for a plan which seemed to be in favor of closing the site. After a long fight it was deemed that the plant would be converted to biomass and continue to run for the next 5 years. This saved millions to city coffers and keep 100 jobs in the city.
4. Housing boom continues – While it was a little slower this year (due to long and cold winter) there was another huge boom in the number of houses being built in the city. In October there was 168 single detached homes built and 130 multi-unit residences built. This construction is in anticipation of the good economic news that is slowly coming to the region with the Ring of Fire, healthcare, construction and more.
3. Noront completes the Environmental assessment – This means that the company is taking another step forward in developing the Ring of Fire. While Cliffs walked away from the table for the time being this and other companies have continued to push forward. Its first mine could be in operation by 2016 if everything goes according to plan. Thousands of jobs for people in Northwestern Ontario are around the corner if these companies can get their shovels in the ground.
2. 210 million dollars in permits issues – These numbers have been consistent the last 3 years showing the strength of the construction economy in Thunder Bay recently. Project after project seems to be going up and they seem to be increasing in size after each project. This bodes well for both Thunder Bays economy and its tax situation.
1. Future outlook (Yes, I know its cliche) Thunder Bay has a positive outlook for the first time in a couple years. The US economy is improving which will mean more exports for the forestry industry. This should have long reaching effects for all of the region as more homes are built and demand for lumber increases. While there will continue to be struggles with the government with spending and cutbacks there is hope that it should level out soon. The federal government is set to break even in 2014-2015 and the provincial government is moving away from austerity to economic growth to reduce the deficit. The diversification of the Thunder Bay economy is also helping to stabilize the city and make it more investor friendly as seen by the increasing private investment. Construction should continue to be a big part of the city going forward. There are plans for a new 6 story condo building on Cumberland, 2 3 hotels current under construction with 1 more potentially on the way. After 60 years of service the Fort William gardens should make way for a new 100 million dollar multiplex which I’m very excited for. A lot more general growth in the city should be expected as the world economy pushes forward into growth.
These are my top 10. What are yours?