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Prince Arthur's Landing 

Editorials by Waterfront Development Committee Members

Our Waterfront Vision Closer to Reality than Ever

Editorial by Brian Babcock, Member - Waterfront Development Committee

September 13, 2008 - Now that Thunder Bay has reached a critical milestone by attracting private investors who share our vision, imagine our waterfront in 10 years. . .

A family reunion is taking place in Thunder Bay – the perfect destination with something for everyone. Relatives stay at the 5-star waterfront hotel – and the RV Park at Chippewa. The kids play at the water park and skateboard plaza while the adults shop downtown. Later, everyone hikes to the Cascades on the waterfront trail system.

Imagine the waterfront – connected, year-round and ours to celebrate. It’s now closer to reality than ever.

The City has successfully attracted private sector interest in our waterfront that could inject over $100 million dollars of outside investment into our economy while creating a vibrant community gathering place on the shore of Lake Superior at Prince Arthur’s Landing.

A development consortium led by Man-Shield Construction responded to the City’s request for proposal that called for the creation of commercial, residential and hotel uses at Prince Arthur’s Landing in keeping with Council’s approved Master Plan.  The consortium submitted a proposal that would see the creation of a 5-star hotel with a wellness centre and spa, a 15,000-square-foot indoor waterpark, a market plaza surrounded by boutiques and two residential buildings. The development, valued at $60 million dollars, would be funded, constructed and operated by the private sector – with opportunities for local entrepreneurs. The plans are inspiring and can be viewed at www.thunderbay.ca/waterfront.

The next step is to move into negotiations with this development team to bring an agreement to Council for a decision within six months.  With the private sector on board, we can now approach the provincial and federal governments to become equal partners with the City of Thunder Bay to fund the $66 million in public projects.  Translation – the City’s investment of $22 million gains $126 million in improvements.

The financial benefits do not end there.  According to the developer, there will be about 250 permanent jobs created between the hotel, the revamped CN Station and the Market Pavilion – and the potential for another 250 jobs in a revitalized downtown.  The private development alone will include 225 man-years of construction employment in Thunder Bay.  The City will receive about $1 million in property taxes each year from the proposed private development, and about $9 million will be generated in GST and PST from construction alone.
As a citizen volunteer on the Committee, I have donated hundreds of hours to making my hometown a place that my children, and someday grandchildren, can be proud to call home. Through this involvement, I am confident that we have got it right.

Prince Arthur’s Landing is the place to start. The proximity to downtown has unique advantages that can improve an existing neighbourhood and economy before it’s too late. We will have a larger park, more trails, new recreational opportunities, an expanded marina and amenities that will help our economy diversify.

Views of the harbour will be maintained. Many new trees will be planted, diversifying the current landscape. Most importantly there will be new attractions, programming and facilities. Marina Park will be a safe, year-round people place that is unique to Thunder Bay.

Meanwhile, the Waterfront Development Committee will continue work to realize the vision for our entire 52 kilometres of waterfront, beginning with the Current River greenway, initiatives at Chippewa and new trail connections. From there, the Committee will tackle longer-term projects including Pool 6.

These will be exciting and, I hope, positive times.  Our goal is ambitious, but great things never happened by saying “it can’t be done”.

Imagine making the city we love an even better place to work, to live, to play. Let’s come together to make our waterfront a place to celebrate.


Brian Babcock is a citizen member of the Waterfront Development Committee and a local lawyer.

 

Questions and Thoughtful Debate Helping to Shape Our Waterfront

 

Editorial by Cameron Clark, Vice Chair of the Waterfront Development Committee

As a citizen member of the Waterfront Development Committee, I have had the privilege for more than two years of representing the public, asking the questions on everyone's minds, and being part of the advisory group making recommendations to Council.

In recent editorial coverage, when a local builder asks why their earlier concept of a "village" of private sector buildings is not being pursued, I know the answer is because we listened to the public. The public told us to minimize the private use of parkland. We did not want a sprawling complex of small buildings situated over a large area of the park. The "village" concept used well over three times more parkland for the private sector development than the approved master plan.

When a local accountant questions the viability of the hotel and condominiums, I know from our due diligence that developers responding to our request for proposals have demonstrated the capacity and expertise to assess the viability of a project of this complexity. The private sector will determine its participation as it must fully finance this part of the development. It is not the right project for every developer and we need to let the process unfold and allow the interested developers to present their plans. Citizens may be pleasantly surprised at how outside developers view the future potential of our city.

When a local boater asks why the new marina is being built on the south end of Marina Park, I know that end has a larger basin for expansion and provides better parking and access. Expanding the marina to the north end would mean replacing the popular and heavily used festival area with parking for the expanded marina. The public clearly told us not to touch the festival area and we listened.

The City has pursued this project in a series of increasingly detailed planning phases, all designed to deliver the best possible waterfront for its citizens and to maximize the public benefits of employment, increased visitor spending, increased tax revenues and public and private sector investment. This project could initially inject $100 million of outside investment into our economy and millions more annually. It's worth the effort and, above all, we are building an outstanding gathering place for the community. We were heartened to see the June 2008 small business opinion survey showed 73% of Thunder Bay businesses support the Waterfront Development plan - a result that's in keeping with the 2007 Citizen Survey.

There will continue to be questions at every phase. The City has spent five years working with marine engineers, land developers, planners, architects, landscape architects, other knowledgeable professionals, stakeholders and the public to identify and resolve issues as they arise.
It is important to remember that nothing is carved in stone. The first priority is working to secure a private sector partner, which is needed to leverage investment from other levels of government for the public sector elements. Then we will start the detailed design of the public sector elements including the market square, waterfront plaza, children¿s splash pad, skating/model boat pond and trail networks. As we proceed with the detailed design process, we will continue to seek and be sensitive to input from the public.

Let's face it: no project of this scale is considered doable until it's done. Large projects such as this evolve over time. No important project in Thunder Bay's history has been immune to public scrutiny and debate -  that's a healthy part of democracy. What's important is that we have a process that allows for thoughtful, careful development every step of the way.

As a long-time resident of Thunder Bay, that approach is critical to me and my colleagues on the waterfront committee. After all, as a community, we're building a legacy for the benefit of generations to come.

 

 


Cameron Clark is one of five citizen members of the Waterfront Development Committee. He is a long-time resident of Thunder Bay and a former Deputy Minister for the Ontario Ministry of Northern Development & Mines.

 

Answers to Your Questions about Prince Arthur’s Landing

Editorial by Councillor Mark Bentz, Chair - Waterfront Development Committee

February 03, 2008 - Now that City Council has approved $22 million and the implementation plan for Prince Arthur’s Landing, the project is officially underway. As a city, we have never been closer to realizing our desire to transform our waterfront into a world-class public space that will surely become our city’s “gathering place”.

Prince Arthur’s Landing will include a host of new recreational and cultural opportunities.  The expanded park will have more public park land than currently exists and will create a vibrant hub of activity that will attract citizens of all ages; it will be a great place to spend time with friends and family. Its placement at the midpoint of Marina Park, between the festivals area and the Pool 6 lands, is the ideal location to link the waterfront to the downtown core enabling it to act as a catalyst for downtown revitalization while conveniently serving the needs of the entire park.

As with any project of this importance and magnitude, questions and concerns are sure to surface as implementation begins. I wanted to take this opportunity to address many of the questions that citizens have raised in an attempt to clear up some misconceptions and provide facts regarding the project.

Why do we need residential buildings and a hotel in the development?
The residential and hotel component at Prince Arthur’s Landing will result in people being present in the park year round and around the clock.  This is a critical feature of successful waterfront projects worldwide as it creates a safe atmosphere where people are always present. The private sector components are also necessary to attract matching funding from the provincial and federal governments which allows us to leverage our $22 million into a total investment of $126 million for our waterfront. The plan designates the ground floor of the hotel and residential buildings as public use areas for shops and restaurants and it insures that plenty of park land will separate the buildings and waterfront to accommodate for public green space and expanded recreational trails.

What is the City building at Prince Arthur’s Landing to enhance recreation?
With support from the Provincial and Federal governments, the City is embarking on the creation of a spectacular public space with a wider range of recreational and cultural opportunities. It will be our City’s “gathering place” and it will have something for everyone including: a market square, waterfront plaza, artisans building, children’s boating pond, splash pad, skateboard plaza, public piers, new gardens, ice skating rink, public art features as well as an expanded marina, festivals area and recreational trail network.

Why are the residential buildings and hotel being located south of the CN Station on the existing parking lot?
The Waterfront Development Committee, which includes five citizen representatives, studied numerous possibilities regarding the placement of the private sector component.  After two years of extensive consultation with the community and interaction with waterfront designers, we arrived at the selected location and agreed on it unanimously. I can assure you that all options were considered.

Some people have suggested building on the former Pool 6 lands. The Committee discovered that legal covenants exist that prohibit residential uses on the Pool 6 lands due to their proximity to the rail yard and industry. Even if there were no covenants, we determined that placing the development on these lands would not provide the linkage and synergies with the core as they would be located almost one kilometre from the foot of Red River Road. We were advised by many experts to create a vibrant waterfront hub of activity as near to the core as feasible if we wanted to realize the maximum benefits – this approach has been proven to work in cities worldwide.  Others have asked, why not allow the buildings to be placed on the other side of Water Street? This has always been allowed – if the developers were interested in this option, they would have done it already.  It is important to note that placing the private sector uses outside of the new development would preclude the necessary year-round presence of people that we are trying to achieve in the park as well as our ability to access matching funds from other levels of government.

Can the City afford to do this project?
The majority of the City’s $22 million share is in reserves and has been earmarked for this project. The $6 million that the City will need to raise in the coming years will have 0.4% impact on taxes – less than half a percent.

The real question is, can we afford not to do this? Prince Arthur’s Landing will bring more than $100 million of outside investment into our community, create 1,800 construction jobs and 140 permanent jobs. It is estimated that it will add $14 million per year in tourism spending to our economy and another $1 million per year in property tax revenues.  It will give us a new sense of pride and optimism needed to keep our young people here and the amenities needed to attract knowledge based industries that are necessary to diversify and grow our economy.

Prince Arthur’s Landing will be our gathering place - an amazing public space that will be one of our community’s greatest assets as we move forward.