Waterfront Update – Mark Bentz


Picture courtesy Thunder Bay Skateboarding Coalition
THUNDER BAY – As many Thunder Bay citizens are aware, recently the media reported on a delay in announcing the name of the new waterfront hotel. Given the dates that have come and gone with respect to the announcement and the related angst in the community, I felt that it would be a helpful to provide an update on the status of the project and reiterate some of the details regarding funding and time-lines.

First of all, I want to say that I believe that things are going extremely well with the progress of the project as well as negotiations between our administration and developer. The sheer size and scope of the project is amongst the largest in our city’s history. When completed, it will represent an investment in our community by all levels of government and the private sector of approximately $120 million that will have an immensely positive impact on our economy. The City’s cost to realize this investment and redevelopment was approximately $21 million. The Provincial and Federal Government’s funding contribution is currently in excess of $36 million and the private sector’s contribution will be an estimated $65 million when complete. The amount of collaboration and effort that all partners have displayed to this point is exceptional in every way and I have every expectation that this project will be completed as originally envisioned.

The publicly funded portion of the project totals approximately $57 million and includes amenities that will make the park more enjoyable year round. The amenities include: a skating rink, splash pad, numerous works of public art, enhanced trails, public buildings and structures, gardens, fire pits, skateboard park, and waterfront plaza. The construction was initially projected to take five years to implement but had to be compressed to less than two years given the requirements of the $29.4 million in Infrastructure Stimulus Funding (ISF) that Thunder Bay received. The fact that the City was able to achieve this goal in large part due to the efforts of dozens of local and outside contractors is truly commendable – I am sure I speak for most citizens when I extend my thanks to all of the men and women that have helped to build Prince Arthur’s Landing. This project is currently on schedule and all ISF works will be completed by the October 31 deadline. After October 31, landscaping and other capital works near the CN Station will need to be undertaken, using already budgeted funds, and is planned for 2014 when hotel construction is completed. I would encourage all citizens to access Pier 3 to view the entire development – I am sure that you will be impressed by what has been accomplished. The park will reopen in late 2011 allowing the public access to all areas with the exception of the hotel and condominium construction sites.

With the public portion of the redevelopment nearly complete, the next phase will be for the private developer to construct their hotel and residential condominiums. The developer has completed their final designs for the condominiums and a sales office, including a model suite, is currently under construction in the CN station and is set to open in late 2011. Negotiation between the private sector partners is progressing well regarding the construction of a 4 star hotel and we are hopeful that an announcement will be made in 2011 followed by construction to begin in 2012. As with any large project involving joint ventures between private companies, negotiations are very involved processes whereby parties must come to agreement on numerous items including: legal, financial, land title, land use planning, construction and operations to name a few. While the developer may have tentatively set some dates for announcements that have passed, I want to assure everyone that the information I have seen indicates that the negotiations are going well and the developer and hotelier are indeed close to making an announcement. While everyone would like the announcement to happen sooner than later, we must remember that these types of negotiation take time and the hotelier’s policy is that no announcement can be made until all aspects of the negotiations are finalized.

Projects of this magnitude take an extraordinary amount of time and effort to complete and have unforeseen circumstances that may cause unexpected delays. The fact that we as a community have gotten as far as we have in the short time we have turned our minds to the development at Prince Arthur’s Landing, speaks volumes to our “can do” nature. This progressive culture, which is ingrained in our city, is getting noticed at both the provincial and national levels of government and business and is key to the many great things that are happening in our community.

In closing, I would like to assure the community that the developer and hotelier are excited to do business and invest their money in our community, so let’s welcome them with open arms.

Mark Bentz
Chairman, Waterfront Development Committee

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