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Downtown design turf war settled

'This has been somewhat of a prickly subject'
2020 08 17 City Hall from Main Street (Campaigne)
Main Street East at Wyld Street in downtown North Bay.

North Bay City Councillor Mark King told his colleagues he felt the issue over whether to award a design contract for the redevelopment of Main Street to an outside firm or explore having the City of North Bay staff take on the project deserved a longer look.

"This has been somewhat of a prickly subject," for me, declared King. "I certainly hoped this item would remain on committee for a certain period of time. I felt there was a real value in speaking with the property owners."

See related story: King: Keep Main Street design in-house, save $340K

King was in the minority as he was the sole member to vote against awarding the $340,000 contract to R.V. Anderson Associates Limited for the design of the Downtown Main Street reconstruction project. Councillors George Maroosis and Chris Mayne are downtown business owners and declared conflicts of interest.

Coun. Dave Mendicino maintains feedback from the downtown business owners has — and will continue to be received. Mendicino and Coun. Mac Bain sit on the Downtown North Bay board as council representatives. Mendicino has been a vocal supporter of the Main Street redevelopment, and both he and Bain have sternly opposed King's stance on the matter.

Despite his reservations, King acknowledged during his address to Council members Ian Kilgour, the City's Director of Community Development and Growth had reassured him "no development will take place without the approval of those businesses."

The design contract discussion had been moved from council last month, to committee two weeks ago, then back to the regular meeting of council, Tuesday. When it returned to the committee two weeks ago, City staff indicated its reasoning to contract the design work out for this project comes from a lack of available resources to do it in-house and poor timing to take on a project with an imminent start date. 

See related: Committee exiles Main Street design contract back to Council

Adam Lacombe, the City's Senior Capital Program Engineer, noted to tender the project late this year and begin construction early next would require reassigning staff working on other projects to the Main Street design. Those other projects would then be forced to be deferred and/or contracted out.

"Outsourcing is the optimal way to go," added Lacombe during that committee presentation, to ensure "timely tendering of the project."

Mendicino advised the Downtown Waterfront Master Plan and "recent input from stakeholders will be used as a starting point for the design framework," and further public consultation will take place.

The project involves the reconstruction of Main Street from Cassells Street to Sherbrooke Street and Ferguson Street from Main Street to Oak Street, as outlined in the North Bay Downtown Waterfront Master Plan (DWMP), which states, "Streetscaping improvements will help to improve the attractiveness and overall usability of this historical Main Street."

See also: Report: Main Street 'beyond rehabilitation

In early February, a City of North Bay staff report recommended awarding the design contract and, ultimately, proceeding with the project as "the surface infrastructure on Main Street downtown is at the end of its life and is beyond rehabilitation and requires complete reconstruction. Not proceeding with the design and the subsequent reconstruction will lead to increased and escalating maintenance costs and safety concerns."

Mendicino noted the Main Street project was high on the list of this Council's priorities, following Cassellholme and the Community and Recreation Centre.

Stu Campaigne

About the Author: Stu Campaigne

Stu Campaigne is a full-time news reporter for, focusing on local politics and sharing our community's compelling human interest stories.
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