Event Center

The Thunder Bay Event Center wasn’t and never has been about a AHL team, tourism or how much money a facility could make. It has been about investing in the community that we call home and taking pride in our city. Thunder Bay currently has an arena that is 60 years old and doesn’t meet the needs of the people today, going forward or 20 years into the future. Councils of past have deferred this conversation until almost at the bitter end (Major renovations required in the 2020 range). Every year we delay we are one year closer to having to spend millions on a facility that can’t accommodate those with physical or mental handicaps. It grows harder for an older population to access and doesn’t meet the desires of an environmentally friendly young generation. Businesses are being left to wait for an answer from the city and the electorate to if they will have their major boost. We are left with a decision to make on whether we need to build this center or not and I believe the answer is yes.

Our city is undergoing a major transition from its resource based roots to a more diverse and stable economy. We seeing the errors of our ways when we decided that building on the fringes was the best option. The mindsets of city leaders, planners and developers are now about centralizing and supporting the things we already have. The city determined through an impartial third party that the city members supported this and that the marina was the best option. It’s the best option because its supported by the surrounding businesses and fits in the city’s plan to upgrade our community. It’s about improving the image of our community, supporting the businesses and community members that make the city tick. Most importantly it’s investing in us, our community and our people. We take pride in the fact that we have the most hockey players per capita but yet our facilities are underfunded, old and falling apart. We complain about the conditions of our infrastructure… well ladies and gentlemen this is a part of that infrastructure and it has been neglected for too long. We need to proceed with the plan for the event center and invest in our community. Our region is small so busloads of people will not come to the facility but the people that come out to support the Lakehead Thunderwolves will continue to come out. The parents who support their kids through hockey seasons and comes to the games will come and fill the seats of the event center.

This plan is not perfect, it will need some revision and the community should be able to provide ideas for this but we cannot let a minority of people express their thoughts louder than those in the majority and perceive them as right. We need to do what is right for our community today, tomorrow and 50 years from now when they look to a new building. People say a lot of things about this plan and how its negatives outweigh its positives. The fact it will lose money or the fact that we won’t ever be able to truly support a professional team. To me this project gets people so amped up because it has that potential to really bring the community together and be that spark that lights a fire under people. It is a major change from the way the city has conducted itself in the past. It challenges the mindset of thousands of people into a new, greener way of thinking. A downtown location is the best option for not only Thunder Bay but for major sports arenas around the world. We have seen Edmonton, Calgary, Minneapolis all look towards their downtown cores as the best option for their redeveloped arenas. We are even seeing Kanata look and see the error of their ways with the development of the Ottawa Senators home arena so far away from town. This project is about more then simply saying we want to have world class hockey here in Thunder Bay.

It’s not about the money, the AHL or a downtown hotel. It’s about the people of this community and giving them the chance to attend a world class building. It’s about investing in ourselves and making ourselves a stronger community and how we represent ourselves to those around us. Our city needs to have that boost where we invest in the recreational facilities that we as a community enjoy. This is about improving the quality of life that we expect to have in our city. The money issue can be figured out as well as the parking but I believe that this is truly about us as a city.

Lets build it Thunder Bay.


Proposed Changes: Westridge Bus Route

The longer I stay in a community the more I challenge myself to come up with new ways for the community to come together and become a better place to live. When I use Orillia transit I have always wondered what the plans are for the future to make sure the transit service services the proper areas for those who want to use it. Western Orillia is undergoing a massive expansion in the number of residents, businesses operating in the area. A large influx of students has moved and continues to move into the area to attend Lakehead University and Georgian College – Orillia. As the area changes the services need to change with the community and this is where my idea comes in. Large numbers of students who live close to Lakehead (within a 20 minute walk) drive to school and the school is currently focused on finding ways to alleviate the pressure from the single commuters. One means of reducing the number of students who drive to school is to make the transit system more attractive to use. Moving the Westridge route to where the new developments are ongoing would help to alleviate the pressures placed on Lakehead. Currently, the bus follows the main road to the school and for students/individuals who are going to live in the new additions to the subdivision there isn’t a great place to go and catch the bus. They’re stuck in between two bus stops and neither are an attractive offering when having to walk in the snow. This lack of viable options means that students are more likely to drive to school and the city misses out on a real opportunity to increase ridership. I figured that it would be a better idea to bring the bus to them in order to get them to their destination in a environmentally friendly way.

Westridge Change

Above in red is my proposed changes to the Westridge route that would take students to the university. I purposed these changes based on the positive impact that the transit system more effectively servicing this area would do. Isabelle street alone in undergoing a massive influx of new residents that would be perfectly served by this addition. 5 new town home units are being built which should add another 100-120 residents to this street alone. This road is also connected to 3 massive clearing where developers are preparing to start construction on 3 new sections of the subdivision. Large numbers of people could be served perfectly by this change in the bus route which would increase transit ridership and decrease the parking issues at Lakehead campus. Adding the stops in the subdivision would give people a closer spot to gather for the bus and would better service the subdivision construction further away from the main road. It would add additional time to the route which would need to be accommodated for all route in order to continue running the service on time. Additions to the other routes could also likely be found which would help to service more people to and from these areas.

In future, council would need to look at servicing rotary place and servicing the new Costco that is going to be developed along this route. The proposed changes made here are just one step in helping to expand the active transportation offerings that Orillia has and reduce the greenhouses gases put out by the city and its residents. With how fast the community is changing it might be time today to look at changing the transit system to meet the growing needs of the community and its residents.