Skip to content

North Bay rec centre project aiming to be shovel-ready by October

Construction costs for multi-use could reach $34 million

North Bay city council now has a clearer vision of the look and cost of the proposed community and recreation centre to replace the aging Sam Jacks West Ferris arena.

Toronto-based MJMA and North Bay firm Mitchell Jensen Architects provided council with an update on their design changes.

The design team is aiming to have the project ‘shovel-ready,’ with a complete set of tenderable construction documents by October.

“Obviously, none of us anticipated a pandemic, but this design team has been committed to delivering the contract that we said we would," said Marc Downing, senior associate at MJMA.

"So whatever council wants to do with the documents that we have, we are going to be ready for it."

The twin-pad multi-use, multi-season facility is estimated to cost between $32 million and $34 million.

The unique, “trident” shape of the building is meant to fit in with the natural setting of the property where it will sit adjacent to the Omischl Sports Complex.

“Two of the forks of the trident are the arenas. And the third is this multi-use space. And that is the space that really connects the building to the sports fields,” said Downing.

“There is this sense of openness, lots of natural light, great view of the sports fields and overhangs, exterior covered space around that multi-purpose space that allows the community to collect around the building outdoors.”

Continuing with the plan to make the space as flexible as possible, the community room meeting space which has a kitchen with a divider can be converted into two spaces.

“That space could be a tournament meeting room. It could be informal seating for viewing the ball diamonds beyond the building. It could be used for yoga classes, a senior’s space. It could be dryland training for various teams. It could be a meeting place for field sports users before they head out for a tournament. It could be a popup market venue. It goes on and on," Downing said. 

"These are things we heard from stakeholders and community groups.”

More square footage has been added to give the centre the space needed to function as a multi-use facility.   

“Some of the spaces include gender-neutral referee changerooms, storage space for community associations, an operations work shed for field staff,” Downing said.

“Again, it is a reminder that the building isn’t just about ice, it is about the entire sports park that already exists.”

A walking track on the upper level overlooks the "tournament rink” with elevator access, allowing spectators to watch a hockey game or figure skating practice below.

A universal washroom will be located at the track level, and a universal washroom with an adult change table will be located on the main level. Plenty of changerooms have been included in the design.

It was suggested the multi-season approach could see one ice pad being used for an RV and boat show, with ice sports in the other, and presentations and lectures going on simultaneously in the multi-purpose room.

Both ice pads are regulation NHL size.

“The south rink is what we will call the tournament rink. That is the rink with the walking track hovering above it, and with the larger number of spectator seats,” Downing said.

Additional amenities include a transit loop and room for tournament bus parking.

City engineer John Severino explained that the city will find out this fall whether the project will qualify for funding through the ICIP-Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program. It applied through the community, culture, and recreation stream.

“When the project was initially being contemplated back in 2018 and 2019, there were no grant programs,” said Severino.

“The council of the day made decisions to start the process and make provisions within our budget to fully fund it municipally.”

If successful, the estimated $34.3-million project could qualify for $12.9 million from the federal government and $10.76 million from the province, leaving the municipality to pay $10.7 million.

Should another infrastructure stimulus package be announced, the city will make an application to it, too.

“People are speculating the federal government and the province will try to stimulate the economy and have an infrastructure stimulus program, where there would be one-third, one-third, one-third expectations. But again, that is strictly speculation,” said Severino.

The matter has now gone back to committee for further discussion.

“Our preference is that council gets behind us on getting this project shovel ready and that we all act quickly and responsibly if there are any adjustments to the design that are required,” said Downing.