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Which council candidates support/oppose the new rec centre/rink?

There is a mix of support, opposition and new ideas among the candidates
2020 11 17 North Bay Community and Recreation Centre Renderings 1 (YouTube)
Courtesy of MJMA Architects and Mitchell Jensen Architects via the City of North Bay on YouTube.

Sport North Bay asked the question, "Do you support the current plans for the new Recreational Centre at Omischl?"

See: No shortage of opinions on arena project

Check out our council and vote here.


I supported the new Community Centre at the Omischl Site and was pleased with the investment by the Federal Government. I continue to support the Center at Omischl and look forward to supporting the staff report to the new Council, anticipating it will be similar to the original plan.

BOULAY, Francine

I do believe that a recreation centre is required here in the city.  Although at this moment, I believe that we should focus the budget on stabilizing the inflations and reorganizing the city to become a safer place.  Being said, if the provincial and Federal levels do have any sort of budget to kick start the project.  I would certainly encourage you to start the project immediately.  If not,  It shouldn’t be in the immediate attention

CADOTTE, Richard

No, not at a time we're dealing with housing is more important than a new tax expenditure for the wealthy.


New Community Centre on Lakeshore Drive: I do believe we need to replace the existing 'end of life' infrastructure and this site has been presented as the selected choice.  I attended the federal funding $ 25.7M announcement by MP Anthony Rota of our proposed Community Recreation Centre.  What a windfall for our city and taxpayers! Like you, I will await to see the carbon zero drawings to assist the new facility.  The next council will make the final decision early next year and then get shovels in the ground, which will likely take 16-18 months as this Federal funding has a timeline.


Yes, I support current plans for the new Recreation Centre at Omischl, I did not support moving ahead with this project while we were in the middle of the pandemic but definitely do want to see it progress as we get back to normal and would vote to support it moving ahead to our brighter future. My only addition to this support would have been to have an indoor green field attached to this facility for soccer, football etc as we are in questionable weather for half of the year in North Bay. It does sound like we're past the point of adding this and Canadore is taking the lead on getting an indoor greenfield developed which is great news also.


I do not support the new arena, wrong location, wrong design, high-priced and most importantly, there appears to be a lack of enthusiastic support out there in the community. And I think part of this lacklustre feeling is a consequence of very poor consultation with the various user groups in the early stages of the design.

The first warning sign for me was the fact that the senior levels of government rejected the City’s grant application and the city adopted a “go-it-alone” stance.

Secondly, the unique design versus a functional “off-the-shelf” twin pad arena drove the design, construction and operating cost significantly higher than necessary. We are a hockey nation. We have 100s of examples of well-designed, cost-effective, efficient designs. No need to reinvent the wheel.

Third, the current council has authorized the borrowing of $24M for financing the outstanding balance. Interest cost at 4% over a 20-year term adds an additional $9,645,753.44 to the undetermined project cost (the 2020 estimate before construction cost exploded was approximately $42M, so at a minimum, we were at $51M).  In very simple terms we cannot afford it.

The application for the recently announced $26M federal grant to achieve net-zero building emissions and reduced carbon is not clear. For those interested, Google Canada Green Building Council and Zero Carbon Building Design Criteria. For starters, the inefficient design of multiple roof structures, extra exterior wall surfaces, curtain glass foyer, and enlarged footprint adds unnecessarily to the number of construction materials (embodied carbon and energy) and annual operational costs (energy). Be careful if the City staff presents a plan called “net-carbon-ready” that allows a building to qualify for funding so long as it is designed to transition to a net-zero status in the future. In this case, additional millions will be needed to add renewable energy technologies such as solar panels or heat pumps.

I am somewhat envious of Sault Ste Marie. The City announced its desire for a twin pad arena within a similar time frame to North Bay.  The City selected a conventional side-by-side twin pad design. They received $18M in senior government support so the final cost to the municipality was $10M.  And despite some delays, the building is now anticipated to open in early January 2023 with a slight cost overrun of $500,000.

The alternative

If elected, I pledge to immediately work with the Mayor and Council on an alternative solution to be agreed upon in principle early in 2023. We all can agree that the West Ferris Arena has a limited life left.  We all can agree that without a new arena at Omischl that change rooms will be needed at that site.  Teams have waited for over 10 years.

My preferred alternative is to collaborate with Canadore College and Nipissing University on a cost-sharing solution.  Other communities have proven the mutual benefits of partnering with post-secondary institutions.

I am well aware of the Multi-use recreational study and its failures.  Times have changed. We need a cost-effective solution that can be implemented quickly. And we need to consult with the sports and recreation community early and often.

That is my pledge.


Under the current plan, we cannot support the Recreational Centre at Omischl. I feel the discussion on the location and extravagance of design need to be discussed. We do believe we need more ice surfaces within the City of North Bay


There is a need for new hockey rinks in North Bay. 

Since the Memorial Gardens arena renovations, there are questions about transparency and trust. Now, with the Omischl Arena Proposal, people are skeptical.

How can people trust that the budget reflects the true costs? 

How can people trust the information that the City and Council are sharing with them?

How can other communities build arenas for less but this is our price tag?

Why this design? Will it limit further development? What about other indoor sporting activities (pickleball, badminton, basketball, squash, skateboarding, etc.) 

Before the incoming council can move forward, there is a need to ask more questions.

Then we must develop a very open and transparent communication plan that will be utilized throughout the entire process to share information with the public on what is happening and continue to invite comments and feedback. 

Reports, long documents, and attending council meetings are time-consuming for the average person to be able to get information and lacks accessibility. 

Council and the City can create easy-to-read documents to share with the public, as well as, use social media channels and other outlets to communicate information in a consumable manner for the public. 

As someone who has played slo-pitch in North Bay for over a decade, the fields at the Omischl Complex were built wrong and are dangerous. They are too large and facing the absolute worst direction. There was a sinkhole under the field at the Omischl complex. How can the City and Council ensure that the arena complex does not follow the same path? 

Scott Kile

Being involved in minor hockey for 33+ years I have personally been advocating for a new double pad arena long before the MURF study. My group (the NBMHA timbit hockey for beginners) were the 1st group to provide $5000 for the MURF study. When the new double pad arena was announced I was ecstatic with this announcement. Full discloAsure, I did not feel the location, design and cost were optimal but accepted it, as this was a long time in the making. Today with our current circumstances within our city, the homelessness, drug addiction and mental health issues out of control along with the replacement of Cassellholme for the aged and the release and short fall of the 2022 Corporate Asset Management plan  the current tax base is going to be stressed to the max.

My platform is "Earning your trust through transparency". I see the purpose for a new twin pad arena. I am afraid our tax base at this time will not be able to support a twin pad arena. Having said that, our arenas are part of the City of North Bay infrastructure and must be considered. Any person who feels we do not need a new arena I invite them to go down to the West Ferris Arena to take a look at the support posts that have been added to the middle of the dressing room floor to ceiling to aid in holding the roof from collapsing. If a twin pad is not in the cards now, I want to come up with a plan B where we at least get a regulation size single pad arena that can safely host bantam, midget, junior and university hockey.  This will at least give us the ability to safely host bantam & midget hockey tournaments again. Let's bring back the Golden Puck Hockey Tournament and much more.

I know this news is not what we want, It means we must continue to use Pete Palangio Arena until such time as we can get the regulation size twin pad arena built. Although Pete Palangio was built in the mid 1970's I am not sure if Sport North Bay is aware both ice pads were completely replaced in the mid 1990's due to the substandard construction of the arena ice pads. The cement ice pads were supported by beams under the ice pads. The beams were starting to rot and the ice pads were collapsing. Both pads (over a 2 year period) had to be completely removed and filled in with solid fill and the ice pads replaced. My reason for mentioning this is to ensure you are aware that in spite of Pete Palangio being roughly 45 years old the ice pads are roughly 27 years old. 

If we can pull it off I would like to push the new twin pad arena. If it is not obtainable, I will go to my Plan B if necessary. I have attached a letter I sent to the current City Council in December 2020 in support of the twin pad arena. Please see below.

KING, Mark

As Chair of the Arena Committee, much time was spent by both the committee and staff to determine that the Omishcl site was the best location for this proposed build. It was determined by the arena committee, supported by a city council motion, that Omishcl was the best option which I fully supported. I was lukewarm with the proposed design. The design proposal cost was in the $30M range at that time. Since then, inflation has driven building costs to an extreme point. Over the last two years, several changes have taken place. The recent announcement of $27M of federal funding in support of the arena's construction poses several questions that the new Council will need to ask. Furthermore, the past Council had asked staff for a business plan which was never presented. All these unknowns do not provide enough comfort for me to support them. Further, it should be noted that Covid has played a significant role in sports in general. I would need to hear from the hockey associations about what they consider to be acceptable enrolments in their programs and have these enrolment numbers increased or decreased from pre-Covid. It should be noted that the minor hockey association is now floating the idea of reduced enrolment costs for players and are asking for support from Council. At this time, West Ferris Arena will need to be in use.


I do not support the current plans. I feel that the development at Omischl should reflect the use of the existing fields.  The building should have appropriate change rooms, washrooms, some storage, a tournament office for use of sports groups, a first aid area, and concession opportunities for groups to support critical events and tournaments.  

I have been working with some sports groups on a concept community centre for West Ferris  It would host 2 ice pads (planning ahead for the decommissioning of Double Rinks) and would include seating for 300 spectators per pad with staging space for figure skating, sport training and testing facility, community programming spaces for youth and seniors drop-in, sports group office in order to leverage relationships among organizations (i.e. hockey, football, baseball, soccer ..... ) concessions opportunity and tournament offices.  Outdoor elements include a community splash pad, beach volleyball courts, and plenty of parking - and the City could work with the school Board to jointly develop fields adjacent to the school next door.  The plan identifies that there is enough room to accommodate this development and the zoning is congruent.  Vital to the concept is its price.  The construction is a pre-engineered style building which (from estimates I have received - though not tendered) is approximately $30 million.  This is far lower than the proposed development and it's an investment in Ferris  - long overdue.

MALLAH, Justine

In short, yes. I do support the current plans for the new recreational centre at Omischl. 

With that being said, having knocked on over 2,000 doors, I have noticed there is a great deal of misinformation being circulated about the current plans. Many citizens have also raised valid questions regarding North Bay’s financial position. It is important for the City of North Bay to address these questions, concerns, and the abundance of misinformation through effective communication practices and public relation efforts. Having completed a master’s degree in communication, I understand the importance of open communication and rapport building to build trust and form a community. 

After hearing the concerns about the recreational centre, I spoke with the City of North Bay’s Manager, David Jackowski, who is overseeing these plans. David was eager to respond to my questions and address the concerns I was hearing. Below are a few concerns I’ve heard and what I learned from my conversation with David:

Concern: We need to consider building the recreational centre at Memorial Gardens.

Response: Memorial Gardens was considered. Through soil testing, City staff realized that the area behind Memorial Gardens used to be a landfill, so it would be very difficult, and expensive to build this type of facility there.

Concern: It should be downtown or somewhere closer.

Response: West Ferris is losing an arena and so it’s ideal to have the facility in that area. Because the plan requires a minimum amount of space (I believe 12 acres), it limits where the recreation centre can be built. 

I would love to explore the idea of having increased city bus frequency available to the sports-led for folks to increased access. This would help to make the centre more accessible (travel- and cost-wise) to lower income families.

Concern: We need to go with a simpler layout. It needs to be expandable to four arenas.

Response: The plan to build two rinks in the proposed layout was decided on because of the underlying geological structure of the site, being a mix of Canadian shield and softer deposits. The shape as presented made the most sense according to City engineers.

Concern: It’s only for hockey. 

Response:  Like all ice surfaces in our community an area is for all ice sports, such as ringette, skating, figure skating, and curling. It is also important to remember that should West Ferris Arena be closed Ringette will lose its main ice pad, making the new location a natural fit. We can cover the ice pads for other sports. There is also an accessible walking track and a multi-use centre. The goal of the space is to be used by many.

It is clear that many concerns amongst members of the public are based on misinformation and misunderstanding. This is an opportunity for the City to be responsive to the public. 

On a similar note, I have been reading City reports to learn more about the inner workings of our municipality. I have also compared North Bay’s reports with those from other municipalities. Despite the fact that I have over seven years of post-secondary education, I cannot always understand the jargon being used in North Bay’s reports. We need to do a better job of communicating simply using lay terms, as well as include more information regarding how and why a decision is being made. Reports that I read from Timmins and Thunder Bay have done a decent job at this and can help inform how we present our information publicly in the future. 

What is also very important, in my opinion, is for the City of North Bay to provide more information regarding how we plan to pay for the remainder of the price tag. I understand that we are receiving a large sum (about $26 million) from the federal government and that there is an additional $9 million set aside for this project. Citizens need assurance that North Bay can afford this arena. I do have concerns about increasing property taxes for this project because our community is already facing so many financial hardships.


We need to Capitalize on the Federal Grant opportunity of $26 million and get the Community Recreation Centre built at the lowest cost to the local taxpayer. Grant opportunities of this size don’t come along very often, we need to capitalize on this.


When I went into this podcast I was against the design of the new facility as I didn't understand why this was the design that was chosen.  After going through it with them and discussing it, this design now makes sense as far as the type of ground that they will be building on.  I also understand that half the proposed cost is coming from a federal grant because of the net zero build, but I still don't have the specifics of where the additional 26 million is coming from.  I would like to know if council had planned for this when they first set the budget in 2016 and started funding this project then or are we going to be asking the residents to pay in the form of higher taxes?  Or are we going to be borrowing this additional 26 million.  I am not in favor of either of those options, I will not ask the taxpayer for more, and I don't think the city should be going further into debt to pay for this project.  The numbers need to make sense before I can definitively say yes or no, I will support this project because I do believe the city is in desperate need of more ice surfaces.  


 In short yes I do, I'm in favour of continuing with plans for outdoor recreational area development put in place already, and am not looking to cancel/disrupt current plans already in motion like the plans for Omischl.


I was on the arena committee when proposals were made for adding a new recreational centre. At the time Omischl was the best choice presented to us. Certainly, funding has already been secured for this. If something compelling was presented I would be willing to look at it but we have kicked this around a long time and need to get going.


Unfortunately at this time, I feel the City of North Bay cannot afford to fund a new facility.   

This doesn’t mean that I don’t support recreation, sports, culture and tourism.  On the contrary, this is just being financially responsible to the community. We can also utilize the $9 million dollars from the CCBF-Canadian Community Building Fund - (Federal Gas Tax) on just that,  but not only one project where the City will have to spend tens of millions of their share.   I believe that there may be a time for this project,  however not in the next four years or during these difficult times and at the taxpayers' expense.


I support the rinks at Omischel if and only if the cost can be brought down to the original $11 million proposed when this project was conceived. Originally, it was supposed to be shared almost equally between the provincial, city, and federal governments. Because the province and the federal government did not support it, the entire cost would be borne by the city. That is currently proposed to be 32-34 million which, in practical terms, probably means between $40-50 million. We have other demands on our capital budgets including an extensive renewal of the water infrastructure. The budgetary well is not infinitely deep and 40-50 million is too much. 


No, I do not support the current configuration proposed for the Twin Pad arena. From my experiences, the Trident shaped model is not practical. The proposed complex has no centre, the area between each arena pad that allows spectators to watch from a warm area. This is especially beneficial to seniors coming to watch their grandchildren, and who have difficulty being in the colder venue. This common area is vital for tournaments, licensed fundraisers, Trade shows, food/beverage area for concerts, and more.

The Trident design is more expensive to build, more expensive to operate, and luxurious for our needs. Yes, it’s a nice design. But it doesn’t provide well for our needs.  Our own 

Doublerinks is a box-style twin pad design that is predominant throughout Ontario. The reason is they’re cheaper to build.  And practical in the box configuration.

SSM is currently building a box-style twin pad. Their price tag is approximately $32-33 million. North Bay’s Trident design is projected to cost $52 million – subject to the Architect’s review of the Zero-Carbon requirements for the Canadian government funding. I believe this current subsidy with a $25.8 million funding limit, could be repurposed towards a zero-carbon box design.

SSM received funding of $18.3 million, leaving a net cost to the city of about $15 million. After our funding, the Trident model’s $52 million budget will cost the city $27 million. If that budget rises to $55 million, the cost to North Bay will be twice Sault Ste. Marie’s input.

Subject to approval, the city of North Bay is committing $9 million from Gas Tax revenue towards this project. Tax revenue that is typically directed towards roads and infrastructure, these funds will be earmarked for the Twin pad at Omischl. It is concerning to redirect infrastructure funding, in light of a recent report to Council, that revealed the city is experiencing a projected $27 million annual shortage for maintaining its Core assets.

If the city can negotiate a comparable ($25.8 M) level of Canadian government funding for a box design like SSM is building, the net cost to North Bay would be about $17.2 million.  This is based on a $43 million zero-carbon project, with the zero carbon parameters adding approximately $10 million to the box design. This is an amount less than North Bay needs to add, due to reduced wall exposure (with the box design).  $10 million in savings would allow the full amount of gas tax revenue ($9 M) to be redirected back to road improvement.

In researching for this decision, I looked at quite a few twin pad constructions in Ontario over the past 5 – 10 years. All of them were box design. As previously stated, they are cheaper to build, and cheaper to maintain. If the city can save on this project, it may encourage a provision for an indoor sports venue like Canadore is building. 

A multi-use facility could be part of a future addition to the twin pad design. Sports could include soccer, tennis, pickle ball, basketball and more. Canadore is considering a driving range. There are endless possibilities for its use. An indoor fair. Additional space for a major trade show (in conjunction with the twin pad).

More details at ….  Elect Ed Valenti - Twin Pad arena


Yes. The recent recreation study identified the need for 5 facilities. West Ferris is finished and Doublerinks has 7-8 years left. Economies of scale suggest less than 2 pads is uneconomical. We own the land and have created a design that is so far ahead of most similar projects according to carbon emissions that the Federal Government granted us $27M. Council directed $10M from our own Gas Tax money toward the project. That’s $37M. If the skeptics’ $50M guestimate is correct, it would mean we could create this building for less than $15M – what a deal! (Obviously, we have to wait for the real numbers. At that point, fiscal responsibility will kick in.)

Other positive aspects:

14 accessible dressing rooms

Accessible walking track

Office space for many sports groups

Common area for activities, such as Zumba

Educational value – Speaking with our Parks & Rec officials, they claim that with a few culverts, they could complete the eco-trail from Omischl to LaVase. – What an attraction! Students from all over the provinces could trace the same trail as Samuel de Champlain did in the 1600s.

We saved $400,000 - $500,000 by following the underlying rock structures. This shape has been questioned. The trident shape is going to help us minimize the costs by reducing the amount of blasting and site preparation. Less drilling and blasting will make it easier to connect the existing infrastructure. The design works well with the existing topography. Due to these innovations, we have the OK from the Ministry of the environment and indigenous authorities.

Buses will drop people right at the door.

I’ve done my research. Some candidates are still suggesting the Memorial Gardens area. That area was the dump yards for City construction companies (cement, asphalt, etc.) There is a study that suggests it would take $8-10M to excavate a foundation. And there’s no parking!

I do not support a P3 for this project. The private board sets all the rules of opening, closing, rental rates, etc. At the end of the year, they total up the expenses, add their profit margin and send the City the bill for the difference. Arenas don’t make money. They are an amenity to draw economic activities and provide places for families to go.

Using the West Ferris Site would mean we have to destroy the children's park and the tennis courts.


Absolutely!  We are getting a fully accessible, environmentally friendly new build along with $27 million from the Feds.  We had a young man present to us a few years ago (pre-COVID) and I was embarrassed when he went through the challenges that someone with a disability faces going through our current facilities.  We need a modern facility that will remove those barriers. 

There are other benefits to this build – an indoor walking track, buses able to drop you off at the door, opportunities for sports tourism and tourism in general.  West Ferris Community Centre is at the end of its life and Pete Palangio is not far away.  Our MURF study shows that this is what we need. 

I want it to be more than a rink in a box and really be a COMMUNITY Centre.  Look at 250 Clark in Powassan - that is what I want our Community Centre to emulate.  My father, Councillor Bill Vrebosch, has pushed for an eco-path along the Lavase River - this site has so much potential.  We also own the land next door and can help create much needed housing that will be complemented by the Community Centre next door. 

People have to stop thinking of this as just a rink.  There are so many opportunities that are outside of hockey.  One of our local gymnastics companies is waiting for it to be built so they can host a Provincial tournament. Conferences, trade shows and more can happen there.   

We have looked at the various locations and we determined that Omischl is the best option.  We have invested the money to have it built there.  Anyone saying that we need a new location needs to realize that changing the location will cost us millions more.  Let's get this thing built!


The proposed twin pad at Omischl Sports Complex is a poorly conceived design with an exorbitant cost. When first proposed the cost to taxpayers was $10 million. Now the estimate is more than $50 million and it could potentially top $70 million. A substantial number of functional municipal hockey rinks have been designed and built in Ontario. Our community needs two replacement ice pads, not a Taj Mahal. Before proceeding, I want to review the business plan that was ordered by council months ago. No prudent person would engage in a project of this scope without understanding the annual operating costs and potential revenue. If the numbers support it, I will advocate for a design like what Sault St Marie has built for approximately $30 million, or look at successful builds from other municipalities. We do not need to reinvent the wheel. Learn and leverage successful ideas from other municipalities of our size.

The following candidates have not responded!

  • BESSERER, Levi  
  • DARNELL, Lance
  • MAYNE, Chris
  • MITCHELL, Lana
  • POLIQUIN, David
  • TAYLOR, Michael