THUNDER BAY – Leaders Ledger – This week I spoke in the House of Commons to promote the proposed Thunder Bay multipurpose events centre. The statement was the start of a sustained push that I will be making to encourage the federal government to become a full partner with the city and the province for this important project.
A few times a year, each Member of Parliament is provided with an opportunity to speak prior to Question Period and make a statement on any issue they deem important to their community. This past week I used my assigned statement time to promote the Thunder Bay multi-purpose events centre in Ottawa.
At their meeting on November 26th, Thunder Bay City Council agreed in principle to a location of the proposed complex, and to continue the development process by seeking out matching federal and provincial dollars. The last point is critical to the project moving forward and the project is now at a stage where I can possibly be of assistance.
Following the decision of the City Council to move into Phase 3 and seek matching funds from other funding partners I was happy to use my statement to bring the issue to the floor of the House of Commons. On Wednesday November 28th I made the following statement:
“Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate the residents, Mayor, and Thunder Bay City Council for deciding to move on to Phase 3 of the Thunder Bay multi-purpose events centre project.
The Thunder Bay multiplex is an exciting community proposal and will be an important economic development tool for the City. But before our multiplex can host top level junior hockey, national curling events, concerts, and large scale conventions, Mr. Speaker, the project must be built. Construction and operation of the multiplex will generate $150 million in direct and indirect economic benefits during the construction phase and $22 million per year in annual economic benefits to the residents and businesses of the city once it is completed.
As they enter Phase 3 of the project the City of Thunder Bay is looking for funding partners who are interested and concerned about regional economic development, about helping the struggling economy of Northwestern Ontario diversify and expand, and who are eager to promote amateur sport and community building.
It sounds like a perfect project for the federal government to partner in Mr. Speaker.
I hope when the request for partnership arrives that this Conservative government will look at the project, see it merits, and become a full funding partner in this important and exciting project in Northwestern Ontario.”
I realize that some constituents oppose the multiplex project altogether or support it being built elsewhere outside of the northern core, but I do not feel that is my responsibility or place to pass judgment on the project as it is entirely a municipal decision that must be taken, and has been taken in this case. Instead, I see my role as a Member of Parliament in Ottawa to do the work of the people of Thunder Bay – Rainy River which includes helping citizens’ access services provided by the federal government, taking clear positions on federal issues that affect the people and businesses in our community, and ensuring that the federal government is working in the interests of the people of Thunder Bay – Rainy River. Given my role as the MP for our riding I feel it is very important that I support the work of our local governments and if they would like to see the federal government to partner with them on a major project, as they have clearly said they want in this case, then it is my responsibility to do whatever I can to help make that a reality.
The Thunder Bay multiplex is very economically important infrastructure development for the City of Thunder Bay and Northwestern Ontario, and one that has already been approved in principal by our local government. It is now my job to seek out federal dollars for this exciting project, but it is one that I am both eager and happy to do.
John Rafferty MP