To the editor:
In January 2021, amidst a worldwide pandemic, your North Bay council recommitted to construct an ice palace for its citizens.
With the overall cost pegged somewhere north of $50 million, this is akin to a bold captain sailing a ship directly into the path of a huge storm.
Canada has just seen the largest job loss in recorded history. Still, our captain and crew ignore the lights flashing on the ship console – the yet-to-open casino, an idled airport, a disbanded Invest North Bay.
The first mate, a steady wheel hand, steers the ship directly into the approaching depression, while the captain comfortably isolated in his cabin below, is engrossed on his Facebook page.
The “show some restraint” messages from Admiral Ford and a commander of the local chamber of commerce go unheeded aboard the overloaded vessel.
So far, two crew members (Mark King, George Maroosis) have jumped ship, someone aboard watches the pair swim ashore. The remainder of the ship’s crew scuttles about the doomed vessel.
Deliberately sailing into a storm is a risky proposition for any sailor. Perhaps the citizens waving and shouting from the shore are seen as encouragement and not a warning to remaining crew. Emergency shoreline flares are but celebratory fireworks to those on deck.
Our architecturally designed, one-of-a-kind ice palace is pricey. The expense to citizens for the infrastructure required to get to the ice palace is yet unshared. These figures are important and are very substantial.
So how much will it cost to extend a 1.3-kilometre stretch of four-laned Lakeshore Drive to a yet unconstructed rotary?
How much to bring water, sewer, hydro, gas and illumination to the ice palace?
How much will it cost for the new signalized intersection of Lakeshore Drive / Booth Road?
How much for that new ice palace driveway, ramp and parking lot?
What is the cost to administer it all?
Perhaps we see why these expenses are kept in the thickening fog bank.
A lifeline has been tossed to the ship. This lifeline is in the form of a grant from the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation to assist in the repairs of the existing West Ferris arena. The cost to repair all the deficiencies was once tagged at $10 million. For that price, we could have a safe, affordable, functioning arena. Sadly, no one from our ship has retrieved that lifeline.
If the situation aboard were not dire enough, an iceberg has broken free. This iceberg (Cassellholme Home for the Aged) broke from our landmass and the crew refuses to own it or look out for it. The iceberg is estimated to cost North Bay about $28 million, but as with most icebergs much remains hidden beneath the waves.
An abandoned, partially constructed ice palace will serve no one. Shiver me timbers this is a very real prospect.
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