“Wow, last night I had an amazing parking spot?”


ThinkTHUNDER BAY – Have you ever attended an amazing concert? Attended a super hockey game? The next morning, talking with friends at work, did you open the conversation with “Wow, last night I had an amazing parking spot?”.

Unless your name is George Costanza, the character from Seinfeld, chances are you would be talking about the concert, the music, or the game and the great goal.

So then, why is the top topic for so people all about parking for an event centre? Surely Thunder Bay doesn’t have thousands of ‘George Costanza’ characters living here?

There is an opportunity for Thunder Bay in the selection of a location for a new multi-plex. The opportunity will come if the major consideration is revitalizing our core districts. Last night after the Thunder Bay North Stars game, a tour of the downtown Fort William core presented empty streets, closed businesses, and other than dinner at one of the two Chinese food restaurants, or drinks at Newfie’s Pub or Player’s Sports Bar, there were few choices.

The streets were empty. There were two people outside at Newfie’s Pub smoking. Heading down Victoria Avenue toward Simpson Street was to feel like it was a ghost town. There was one lady walking, quickly and looking somewhat worried to be out alone down near Fresh Air Experience.

Heading along Simpson Street, there was one person all the way from Victoria Avenue to Nipper’s Takeout. A few bars and one restaurant were open.

The contrast to the downtown Port Arthur core was obvious. The streets had cars parked along them, there was a fair crowd at The Sovereign Room, a busy scene at Crocks, and at The Apollo. The streets were brighter, and there were lots more businesses open, offering choices for food, music or drinks.

Business, and their customers have already decided where the new event centre should go. They are saying it should go into the downtown Port Arthur core.

The other opportunity would be selecting a location in the downtown Fort William core. To be blunt, as much as people are feeling that the new courthouse will help the area, perhaps what is missed are that the people headed into court are not likely to be going shopping too. They might need a spot for lunch, but won’t be in the area long after 4PM or so once the offices close.

Discussion over parking seems to be dominating the discussion. It shouldn’t. Thunder Bay drivers it seems have a fixation on their cars. One might almost think this was Detroit? Fort William Gardens has brought thousands out to events for years, all without a parkade. So too could an event centre in either downtown core.

The investment of government dollars into a project should have the ability to make a difference in more than just the building of the structure.

Putting the event centre in the middle of Innova Park would have the effect of helping what in some circles is called a white elephant. Putting the event centre into our downtown core, either Port Arthur or Fort William would have the effect of boosting the region, being a way to boost the numbers of private business, and revitalize one of the twin hearts of our city.

Doesn’t that make sense? Or should we be building the Emerging Thunder Bay based on the ‘George Costanza’ approach?

James Murray
Chief Content Officer

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