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Opinion Bill Walton, Crystal Ball Gazing

2018 - What Could But Probably Won’t Happen
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2018 will be another year of opportunity in the North Bay area. Some doors will open, others will close. The bold and adventurous will launch plans while the timid and cautious will keep their heads down and hope for the best. The naysayers and NIMBYs will do their best to discourage, while the positive thinkers and dreamers will smile and carry on in the face of adversity and local politics. In many ways, 2018 will be like 2017, 2016 and 2015. However, it could also be a year of change. Consider the following possibilities:

  • The North Bay Public Library, in search for more room, both for ‘books’, a cyber cafe, and patron parking, will sign a long-term lease with Northgate Mall for approximately one half of the old Sears location. Tax relief for the mall owners will be part of the 20-year package. The term of the lease will give City Council time to consider if a new library should be built near Memorial Gardens or on the swampy rock farm sports field in the southern environs. The Head Librarian will dance for joy at the thoughts of all that shelf space.
  • The mandarins at Police Headquarters, in the building that is slowly sinking into the west, will put shovels in the ground for a new headquarters - dare I say it - on the site of the old Civic Hospital. The Sudbury developer who had hoped to put much-needed houses and condominiums on the site will give up and sell the land to the City. The new adjoining 911 centre will have clearance to build a large radio tower (with flashing red lights) to serve residents far and wide. The OMB hearings concerning the lights and too many police cars affecting property values may delay this bold new idea until 2020.
  • In the June Ontario election, the Liberals under Wynne will return with a minority government. (I know it’s hard to believe but trust me on this one). Brown will step down and the Progressive Conservatives will quickly find a new charismatic leader to lead them when the minority government falls in the October Budget presentation. The Member from Nipissing, still unable to shake the image and memories of Mike Harris, will become Deputy Leader in the December election.
  • In May, a dark horse mayoral candidate will come on the municipal scene, promising to Make North Bay Great Again (tee shirts and hats will be available). He will dye what remains of his once thick hair a light orange and focus his entire campaign on tweeting every morning. He will say outrageous things that appeal to a larger demographic than anyone would have guessed. The NBTA will initially back this candidate until they determine that he is tainted when being unmasked as a former city employee.
  • The Police Department and City Hall will jointly hire a Public Relations Communications Specialist with a beginning salary of $75m (a saving of $20m from the budget line), however, the successful candidate will not begin work until the first of April when she completes her ESL course at the University.
  • Working from an unreported and mostly unknown clause in the Battalion / City contract, (the 5th Year Review clause) will give the City an opportunity to renegotiate the supplementary clauses of the contract: to wit - whether the City has the right to use the Gardens in the off-season without paying fees to the hockey team. If successful, this will allow concerts in the facility during the August Multicultural Heritage Days (formerly known as Summer in the Park and originally The Mayor’s Kid’s Day).
  • The snow-removal budget will be completely used up in April, leaving the City without monies to face the onslaught of winter in November of 2018. (The farmer’s Almanac says expect early winter). Around the council table, the fathers and mother come up with a plan to reimburse city residents for their snow blower fuel costs ( there are 2,847 snow blowers in the City) if they will keep the street in their area clear of snow (to 1990 MTO standards). The Snow Vigilantes, the volunteer group that shovels the bus stops, will receive a small honorarium (funded by North Bay Hydro, the only City venture that makes money) for their work.
  • The Mayor will rescind his ineffectual duct tape gag order on Mr. Rennick. (Okay, that one is a stretch).
  • The other vacant half of the Sears location will be rented by Amazon and Google as a discount delivery depot. Delivery / shipping costs are waived by the retail giants on orders over $50 if you pick up your order at the depot. There will be some acts of animosity by employees of the several stores that close in the Mall due to on-line shopping. Employees of the closed stores who hoped to be employed by the new depot will be disappointed when they find that all you have to do to pick up a parcel is talk to Alexi, a piece of electronics, asking her to dispatch a robot to find and deliver your parcel.
  • The first Pizza Delivery by drone in the City will herald a new day for fast food services. Deliveries of early morning coffees, donuts and bagels will test the noise bylaw as drones buzz over houses looking for driveway delivery points using Google Earth. The drones will have a little difficulty navigating through the shadflies but special wipers on the drone’s rotating wings will solve this problem. The wipers will also prove useful during snowfalls. Sky hijackers who try to divert the drones to steal their food will attract flying air-marshal drones that will monitor the airways over the city for illegal signals and take inappropriate action.
  • The Ontario Gaming and Lottery Corp will give up on North Bay and concentrate on Sudbury, hoping Bayites will continue to travel to Rama or to the new casino in Sudbury. The land at the former Nordfibre site will be as polluted as the Craig Bit site at the waterfront and sit empty into the foreseeable future.
  • As the population of the City continues to stagnate, a number of retail and service businesses (including Malls) will apply for reassessment due to falling business volumes and the potential for growth (see Sears closing; drones; and on-line shopping above). The lower assessment values will impact the City’s calculation of publicized property tax increases and the NBTA will say I Told You So!

As you can see, 2018 could be an exciting year in our area. Just saying . . . .




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