In less than a year, we will be heading to the polls for both the Provincial and Municipal elections.  Both of these elections, will set the course for the following four years.  It will be interesting to watch how the various parties and individuals position themselves for the upcoming elections and especially when it comes to growth and prosperity for our Province and communities.

The North Bay & District Chamber of Commerce, supports growth and is mindful of spending to encourage that type of growth and development.  Locally, there are many projects on the go, including redevelopment of Cassellholme, the waterfront and downtown revitalization projects and the need for replacement of the West Ferris arena, those being the major projects, which will impact our members and taxpayers.

These projects need to be done and move forward.  Cassellholme redevelopment is long overdue and now that the financing issue appears to be put to bed, this can proceed albeit still a number of hurdles to clear.  The Board and CEO of Cassellholme, Jamie Lowery are to be commended for the resolve in getting this process changed.  This is a prime example of how we all must think about things in a different way.  Problems can be overwhelming and stagnating, but sometimes different thinking and creative solutions must be and need to be found.

It has been interesting to follow the discussions surrounding the replacement of the West Ferris arena.  The proposal for the south end and the offer of free land to the City for the arena, is not as far fetched as some would have you think.  The concept of the development, according to the developers, where the developers provide the property for the construction of the arena and this in turn incents development of other commercial entities surrounding the arena is an example of creative solutions.  With the adjoining developments, in theory, new tax revenue is generated and thereby offsetting the cost of the arena over the useful life of it and thereby negating the impact on the taxpayers.

To go one step further, the option of a 3P (Public, Private Partnerships) arena, should also be given serious consideration.  The landscape has changed when it comes to investments of this size and if we are going to try and minimize the impact on the taxpayers, we have to look at growth and new tax revenue to offset these costs.  As it stands, if the project is located on City property, whether that is behind the Memorial Gardens, at Omischl or the present site, no taxes will be generated from ancillary developments.  That is why consideration and discussion, should be given to all of the options that have been presented.

Peter Chirico is the President & CEO of the North bay & District Chamber of Commerce