It's an ambitious plan that failed to gain traction before, but councillor Mike Anthony thinks the idea of turning the old NORAD SAGE (Semi-Automatic Ground Environment) site into a tourist destination may be worth a second look.
The idea is the brainchild of Trevor Schindler, a North Bay professor.
See: Could The Hole be a tourist destination?
He pitched City Council before in 2011 and watched it die. Now it has new life.
"I spent over a year communicating with federal politicians and agencies promoting the idea. While virtually everyone expressed support for the idea, nothing came of my efforts."
A few weeks ago Schindler approached council again, asking for a stronger endorsement of his plan of a heritage site/museum/tourist attraction.
"Briefly, I am proposing that the City of North Bay mount a campaign directed at the Government of Canada to have the Underground NORAD Complex redeveloped into a tourist destination as a federal museum or a national historic site," says Schindler.
Council passed a motion asking for the federal government to look at the feasibility of turning the site into some sort of tourist attraction.
"We're officially asking them now.and council unanimously supported looking at it," Anthony told BayToday.
"We did not in any way put pressure on the taxpayer by putting dollars into this locally. Really, when you think about it, that site is such a big part of North American history. It's a unique place on the entire planet, the only one like it is in Colorado. It's part of our heritage, and during the chill of the cold war, brave men and women in North Bay went down in that underground facility every day and were working to protect North America. It's a really important part of North Bay's history and Mr. Schindler is right, it does deserve recognition."
The Hole, as it's known locally, is now sitting empty and Anthony says instead of spending millions to maintain it, why not transform it and actually bring tourist dollars in?
"We need to know what the federal government's plans are for it. It's a very unique and special place. We need to explore it and that's why we've taken the first step
"Look at this as North Bay's version of something as big as Science North."
Schindler has said the Science North budget was $22 million and 12 million came from higher levels of government.
"Obviously Science North has its own revenue stream, but you start to look and you see that these things do get recognition at national and provincial levels," continues Anthony. "When you think about the synergy in trying to attract people to northern Ontario, imagine if there was something else as big as Science North so that when a family came up they could stop in North Bay, Sudbury and beyond to look at these large scale attractions."