Opinion – Indoor Sports Facility Not a Fair Fight

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Lori Paras
Lori Paras

Thunder Bay – Letters to the Editor – On March 12, 2021 Carl Hiaasen, an outspoken reporter for the Miami Herald, wrote his last column.

(https://www.miamiherald.com/opinion/opn-columns-blogs/carl-hiaasen/)

I was given Hiaasen’s opinion piece to read by a friend as they knew I would be interested in this man’s view on the political climate in his city.

In his final column Hiaasen says,

“As you read these words, some scrofulous tunnel rat in public office is busy selling your best interests down the road. It might be happening at your town council, zoning board, water district, or county commission — but it is happening”.

My friend was right. I was interested to read that other cities were dealing with people in power that are disconnected from the priorities of their constituents.

As citizens brace themselves for the non-business meeting on Thursday, April 29 where city manager Norm Gale and his team will share options with city council on how to proceed with building the potential $45 million Indoor Sports Facility (ISF), Covid 19 has shut down city businesses, left people unemployed, left families without childcare, taken the lives of 62 people locally, and closed schools that have left children who counted on their teachers and principals to raise a red flag if something was not right in their homes, extremely vulnerable to abuse.

Hiaasen goes on to say,

“Retail corruption is now a breeze, since newspapers and other media can no longer afford enough reporters to cover all the key government meetings. You wake up one day, and they’re bulldozing 20 acres of pines at the end of your block to put up a Costco. Your kids ask what’s going on, and you can’t tell them because you don’t have a clue”.

I am reminded of the old growth trees that were cut down on Walsh Street as the community watched in shock. It was done so quickly that the community had no recourse. The councillor of that ward said that the energy company had the right to cut down those much loved trees. That may be so, but did that community not have the right to advocate to save them? Maybe, if someone had told them.

I have never referred to our council as “scrofulous tunnel rats”, but after watching city council hide the fact that they were aware that the largest potential funding mechanism for the ISF had been denied eight months previously, and as I watched a ruse play out for the cameras hiding this fact, I am inclined to think there is something definitely going on that citizens are unaware of. None of us know what a post Covid world will look like, and we cannot count on being underwritten by the provincial and federal government moving forward.

This is not a fair fight when human suffering is not being acknowledged. Fighting the power of this Mayor, Council and their administrative arm at this time is just too much stress for many folks. We are already in precarious situations in our personal and business lives, and having to continue to watch leadership move forward with a $45 million recreation facility that citizens have clearly asked them to postpone is not supporting the best interests of citizens. Thunder Bay and the rest of the country is broken at this time, and an over priced recreational facility is not going to fix it.

Lori Paras


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