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After costs skyrocket, North Bay scales back arena ambitions


After suffering some serious sticker shock, officials in North Bay are trying a different approach to building a twin-pad arena at the Steve Omischl Sports Complex.

This past spring, bids came in almost $20 million higher than the $50 million the city was expecting.

Three bids were submitted and the lowest bid was $70 million from JR Certus Construction Co. Ltd., followed by $72,330,000 (Atlas Constructors Inc.) and $82,335,000 (Aquicon Construction Co. Ltd.)

The federal government announced $25.77 million for the project last June. It was to be a net-zero-carbon, fully-accessible, 85,000-square-foot multi-purpose community and recreation centre with two ice pads, a walking track and a multi-use meeting space.

A staff report on the issue said not proceeding with the arena would come with risks. Should the West Ferris Arena be forced to close unexpectedly because of maintenance issues, it would have a major impact.

“Current sport tourism initiatives would be impacted significantly as tournament hosting would be severely restricted,” the report said.

Bids to build North Bay's twin-pad arena at the Steve Omischl Sports Complex came in much higher than forecast. (City of North Bay)

“Reduced sport tourism will impact the local economy, affecting restaurants, retail establishments and hotels that benefit from visitors attending tournaments and events ... The longer a suitable replacement to maintain ice sports and recreational opportunities for the community is delayed, the higher the probability of an unplanned closure at West Ferris Arena.”

In response, city council set up an ad hoc committee to look for ways to build the arena at a lower cost. That committee is recommending the city tender the arena project again, but this time set a limit of $52 million.

If approved by council, bidders would be asked to find a way to deliver “the minimal functional programming” for the arena while staying within the budget limit.

The tender will include a list of the programming, with a priority ranking. The most important elements – the two ice pads, dressing rooms, washrooms, etc. – are top priority and must be included.

But elements such as extra change rooms, storage and food services areas, could be dropped to accommodate budget constraints.

City council will vote on the proposal at its meeting Sept. 19. Top Stories

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