Skip to content

PODCAST: Honorary rink rat talks future of the 'Heart of West Ferris'

'I'm just a West Ferris guy ... It's just the history of us,' says Bill Antler, who is scheduled to present to North Bay City Council about the past, present and future of the West Ferris Centennial Community Centre on Tuesday, Feb. 27

In the Small Town Times/North Bay Echo podcast clip above Bill Antler says he believes some "sober second thought" is needed about what he reverently calls the WFCCC or West Ferris Centennial Community Centre.

These days, the WFCCC is often shortened to the West Ferris Arena, as part of the Sam Jacks Recreation Complex on Gertrude Street. Antler, who is proud to still be known as one of the facility's honorary rink rats, is scheduled to present to North Bay City Council about the history — and future — of the community centre on Tuesday, Feb. 27.  

Antler believes a "false" narrative about the arena's physical condition is what led the city to pursue the twin pad arena replacement. He is advocating for a public review because the powers that be have decided to put it in a location further from the densest residential and business core of the community, with designs on completing a long-term development instead.

I'm just a West Ferris guy ... It's just the history of us,' says Antler about his interest in the past, present and future of the WFCCC.

Antler had hoped to present at the Feb. 13 council meeting but the procedural bylaw limits the number of public presenters to three. It would have been timely because the staff report finalizing the request for proposals to build a twin-pad community centre at the south end of the city was on the agenda.

See related: New arena inches closer to design phase despite opposition

Council ultimately voted in a strong majority to proceed, although Coun. Jamie Lowery, a vocal proponent of renovating and adding to the 66-year-old Gertrude Street structure, called for a reconsideration notice. Only Lowery and Coun. Sara Inch voted against the staff recommendation to authorize the issuing of a request for proposal for a new build to contractors with a project target budget of $60 million that would employ a progressive design-build. 

Lowery maintained the language in Section 36 of the City of North Bay's Procedural By-Law called for the reconsideration to be addressed at the next regular meeting, scheduled for Feb. 27, when Antler was scheduled to present. Lowery's notice of reconsideration during the Feb. 13 regular meeting was immediately met with a response from Mayor Peter Chirico stating he would call a special meeting to address the matter, later determined to take place on Feb. 15.

See also: Lowery loses arena re-vote: 'We need to listen to our community'

In the re-vote, a 9-2 majority once again prevailed to move the twin pad community centre project along at the Steve Omischl Sports Complex.

The Small Town Times channel has joined with North Bay Echo as part of a network of podcasts focusing on our community. The full podcast episode featuring Bill Antler and hosted by Small Town Times founder Dave Dale is available on the North Bay Echo Community Podcast Network. This and other community-driven podcast offerings can be found at North Bay Echo