An email was sent to Mayor Provenzano and several councillors last week. Asking a few questions about the Civic Plaza and why they supported it.
Below, unedited are the responses to the two questions asked.
1. Why did you vote for this to move forward when there is another outdoor ice rink being completed by a private investor in the Canal District? One in which he figures $5 million of taxpayer dollars has already been spent.
2. Why wouldn’t the city put this plaza money toward replacing the W.J. McMeeken arena?
The report Monday was really just an update on the status of the design. No price tag associated with it yet.
Once a price tag is known, then I think the necessary balancing between other city projects will need to be done.
As for the skating rink, that’s just one aspect of this square, and only for half the year. I don’t think it competes with other skating rinks across the city, privately or publicly held.
If the argument anyone is trying to make is that there should only be one rink downtown, then they’re also proposing taking away the Esposito Rink and the Skating Trail.
That’s not what residents want, in my opinion.
Matthew Shoemaker, City Councillor
The plaza development downtown will be a community space for all Saultites, and visitors in the middle of downtown, which will be able to be enjoyed year round.
It’s location will be of far broader benefit to the shop-owners and restauranteurs on Queen Street and throughout downtown, as it will provide a critical mass of people drawn to the location to enjoy one of many festivals, a splash pad, rink etc.
This space will be a focal point that will also by its design, tell the story of Sault Ste. Marie over the generations, dating back to it being an important gathering place for Indigenous People.
We have been looking to revitalize our downtown, particularly Queen Street, for decades. I personally believe, this will be the best addition we as a community could make in that respect.
Corey Gardi, City Councillor – Ward 5
I am including Tom Vair who can give you an overview of the funding sources regarding the plaza. The skating feature is very different from a rink for hockey (as per examples) it will create a winter feature for activities when the splash pad feature cannot be used in winter.
Regarding Mr. Porco I would reach out to him regarding the grants he has received to support his project.
Take care Dan,
Mayor Christian Provenzano:
Thank you for the opportunity to comment.
Your question does not specify the source of the taxpayer money being spent in the canal district or the developer but I think you are referring to the $5,000,000.00 the City received from the NOHFC years ago to develop a tourist attraction.
The City supported and continues to support that money being allocated to and used for a tourism development in the Canal District, specifically the ACTT train station project.
The City has been developing the plaza concept with stakeholders for a number of years.
The City retained a consultant jointly with the Downtown Association a couple years back and received a very thorough assessment and report on our downtown and ways we can improve it.
The plaza project falls squarely within the recommendations and I think it is a critical project for the improvement of and revitalization of our downtown.
Not only does the plaza project serve the community at large, there are a lot of business owners and taxpayers on Queen Street and Bay Street that this project will also assist and support.
The project has been very well received by the community.
I do not think the money would be better spent on replacing the McMeeken.
That is an important project in its own right and we will find a way to make that work but I do not believe that should come at the expense of important investments in the City’s downtown core.
CP (Christian Provenzano)
As was stated, the price tag hasn’t yet been decided but the design has been accepted in principle and so far council support is unwavering.