Fifty-two kilometers. That is the length of waterfront the City of Thunder Bay has. That is according to the City’s website. Of that 52 km, how much is industrial land? Land that will require huge sums of cash to acquire the land, demolish the structures and cleanup the properties? The answer is almost all of it. I am guessing that almost 50 km fall will require that kind of treatment. Two railways run along the entire length of Thunder Bay’s waterfront. They will not like to move.
We are talking about hundreds of millions of dollars. Many hundreds of millions of dollars. That does not include the cost of any kind of development that may be planned for those lands. Serious money. It is not possible to built a simple recreational trail running along the lakeshore right now. I don’t know if it will ever be possible. Not in the lifetime of anyone living in the city right now. If a waterfront trail cannot be built until hundreds of millions of tax dollars are spent in a time frame measured in decades, then how can anyone be serious about developing the Thunder Bay lakeshore. Can a city of barely 100,000 people afford that? Ever?
The photo best shows the problem.
As you can see, after 40 years of Thunder Bay being a city, and in the neighbourhood of $80M in public money being spent, Thunder Bay’s waterfront will be relatively unchanged. Yes, Marina Park will benefit from the $48M in Canada Ontario Infrastructure Stimulus funding the city received back in June 2009. All that money is being spent on waterfront property that was already developed. The Prince Arthur’s Landing Phase 1 development actually removed much of the results of decades of investment by the City in Marina Park. It does not make sense to spend money planting trees, maintaining them for decades until they reach maturity and then cut them all down but that is exactly what was done.
When first phase of the waterfront development is complete, the amount of waterfront that will be accessible to the public will be exactly the same. Fifty million dollars spent and not one additional meter of waterfront park created.
Phase 2 of Prince Arthur’s Landing is supposedly in the planning stage but I am not so sure. A lot of contaminated material has been taken from Phase 1 and dumped on Phase 2 land. Phase 2 land was already heavily contaminated with elements such as mercury, lead, copper, cadmium, arsenic, boron and beryllium . This will have to be dealt with. See Trow Recommendations and Trow site plan.
I estimate the cost of Phase 2 to be around $40M to $50M. Will any government be willing to donate money towards building a $20M marina? I don’t think so as a marina is seen to be an elitist facility. Also, how much money will the senior levels of government have to spend in the future? Ontario and Canada are both running deficits right now. That money can’t be counted on. I believe, because the City is increasing the cost of site remediation by dumping more contaminated soil on the Pool 6 property, Phase 2 is way off in the future. In its present form, it may never see the light of day. The cruise ship terminal should have been part of Prince Arthur’s Landing Phase 1. The ships could have docked at Pier 1. It would have disembarking passengers walking right into the heart of the Prince Arthur’s Landing development. An easy stroll across Water Street into the downtown. Shopping. Eating. As it is now, passengers will need to be transported by bus. Its a long walk from Pool 6 to the CN train station. Not locating the cruise ship dock at Pier 1 was a mistake.
Buchanan Forest Products stands to gain a lot from waterfront development. As you can see from the photo, that company owns property on both sides of Prince Arthur’s Landing. Any expansion of the waterfront park will require the purchase of Buchanan Forest Product land. I am sure the price will be high. I am sure Buchanan did well with the Pool 6 deal. I am sure they will do well again.
Is spending hundreds of millions of dollars to scratch away at the 50km of industrial waterfront property value for money? Is it the best uses of the City of Thunder Bay’s meager tax dollars? Is it value for money? Will it create any permanent jobs?
Its true, all cities on Lake Superior have waterfront parks. Is their waterfront as heavily industrialized as Thunder Bay? Do two railroads run the length of their waterfronts? The answer is no. Duluth had a warehouse district that is easily converted to modern commercial space. Little demolition is required. Private investment. We have grain elevators. We have lumber/paper mills. We have a power plant. We have Keefer Terminals. We have a shipyard. We have two railways. All present barriers to opening up our waterfront to the public. All add cost. We have no private investment. The City of Thunder Bay had to offer to sell the heart of the waterfront park to a developer just to get anyone interested. How’s that working out?
Winnipeg is not on Lake Superior. Neither is Calgary, Edmonton or Saskatoon. Chattanooga Tennessee is not on a large body of water but it has a very large waterfront park. Winnipeg has the Forks. A successful waterfront district does not have to be on a lake. It can be on a river. Thunder Bay has rivers.
The Intercity area is fairly empty. Underused. The McIntyre River flows through Lakehead University, Confederation College, passed McIntyre Centre, The Exhibition Grounds, Intercity Plaza, The Thunder Centre and empties out into Lake Superior. There is some railway restrictions but the CNR line that crosses Fort William Road and Memorial Avenue can be rerouted over the CPR line. The vacated railway right-of-way could become a recreation trail that runs across the entire city. There is room for expansion at intercity. Why not build a waterfront park along the McIntyre River? It is the centre of the city.
All I am saying is that a $100M will go farther if you stay away from the Lake Superior shoreline. There is too much industry located there. Too much contamination. Worth thinking about anyway.