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North Bay city council wants to move ahead with arena project with $52M limit

North Bay’s twin pad arena and community recreation facility is looking like it will be much different than its original design.

At its Tuesday night meeting, city council voted to move forward with the project but at a maximum budget of $52 million.

“I truly hope that this project will come to ‘shovels-in-the-ground’ sooner than later,” said Coun. Justine Mallah.

Council voted 8-2 to direct staff to issue a request for expression of interest for the construction of a new recreation centre by the Steve Omischl Sports Complex within the $52 million limit.

“That’s a little bit more palatable for folks. I mean that's the number we initially thought the project centre was,” said Mallah.

“I think that there will be some difficult decisions."

An ad hoc committee made up of councillors was created in August to discuss the project, including its location, cost, design and usage. The committee decided early on the current location at the sports complex will remain. The recommendation to move forward came from council’s own arena committee.

Tanya Vrebosch is one of two councillors voted against it, citing the lack of accessibility.

North Bay’s twin pad arena and community recreation facility is looking like it will be much different than its original design. (Supplied)

“By trying to cut the costs down and with some of the changes that we're doing -- whether it's intentional or unintentional -- they're reducing the level of accessibility,” Vrebosch said.

The city is hoping to build two ice pads that can seat 250 fans each, 12 change rooms that can fit up to 25 people, a 223-space parking lot with 10 accessible parking spaces and city bus drop-off area.

“This is not coming in at $52 million or under unless you want something that is substandard,” said Vrebosch.

“Why build something that you're going to need to fix or add onto later on?"

The arena project has seen its fair share of twists and turns. Three contractors submitted bids in June, but costs ballooned. The lowest tender came in at a $70 million price tag with the highest tender set at $82 million.

“We'll find out what the bids come back as and then there will be discussions around what are we looking for,” said Mallah.

As for timing, city staff say the expression of interest could go out to market by mid-October with a tender for the project possibly issued late this year.

But all of that need council’s approval. Top Stories

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