City Hall – We have to stop putting band-aids on problems

City Hall
Thunder Bay City Hall
City Hall
A long meeting agenda at City Hall

THUNDER BAY – Councillor Joe Virdiramo says “We have to stop putting band-aids on problems”, and go to the senior levels of governments and look at where the best location is for treating people with addiction problems. Virdiramo supports the program presented by Shelter House for an alcohol addiction program.

Mark Smith General Manager – Development Services Department presented the plan to Thunder Bay City Council today. 

There are already three methadone clinics in the downtown south core, and a fourth planned stated Councillor Virdiramo.

Alcohol Treatment Issue Raised at City Hall

Councillor Johnson states that the motion must go back to Administration as there is no money in the budget for the program this year. As Chair of the Drug Strategy, Johnson said, “The methadone clinics are put in places where there is a need”. She added that they are a for profit venture.

In terms of de-tox centre, there are only a few. Johnson said that was is needed are treatment beds, and a management program for alcohol. 

Councillor McKinnon was offering some ‘wordsmithing’ of the motion, and wanted to remove the semi-colon from the motion. Councillor Rydholm was in the chair this evening, taking the role during the meeting from Councillor Ruberto. The At-Large Councillor was away this evening helping celebrate his wife’s retirement. 

Councillor Paul Pugh commented on the types of treatment that are available in Thunder Bay. Pugh said the treatment program offered at Shelter House is for people who won’t succeed with treatment. “Before us is a motion asking for a report”, and that “Hopefully with that report, we will get a look at solutions”.

“We may go ahead with this, it doesn’t matter where we place it, there will be delegation after delegation saying they don’t want it in our area”, added Pugh.

Councillor Bentz said, “the motion brings us to the next step, and that I hope our staff will look at long term funding, and that is it key in the report that there be long term stable funding”.

The motion passed at Council and Administration will be bringing forward a report to Council.

Whalen Building in Thunder Bay, Ontario
Whalen Building in Thunder Bay, Ontario (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Whalen Building

Councillor Johnson raised concerns about putting another million dollars into the Whalen Building after just having done it before. “It is another situation where we are spending money for naught”.

Mark Smith said, “This is an opportunity to capitalize on money from other levels of government and it is for work that will have to be done no matter what.” Work on the third, fourth and fifth floor of the Whalen Building is needed. 

Smith’s answer was not acceptable to Johnson. The At Large Councillor questioned why the business that would be renting the property would not put in the money and seek the funding themselves. Smith says the work needed is more than what a tenant would do.

Johnson asked what is needed, and could it be left and the facility could still be rented out. “It started at 10 million, and where does it now stop?”

“How much money have we put into one building in this community?” asked Johnson. The Councillor stated she can’t support the spending of more money.

Mayor Hobbs commented that there should be 250 jobs created and that the taxes collected should offset the costs. Mark Smith stated that the rent that the tenant would pay would not impact that.  As a City Owned Building, the tenant pays property tax, but the city does not collect taxes on the property outside of that.

“The Birla group will pay that $1M back in 8 years in taxes according to my rough calculation,” states Mayor Hobbs.

Councillor Rydholm wanted to know why the issue of what one company pays in property taxes would be made public. Tim Commisso tried to offer insight as the status. What the issue really means is that the amount of taxes charged or paid by a company is public. The status of the tax payment status is confidential.

The motion passed at Council.


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