ELLIOT LAKE - The former Algo Centre Mall site, purchased last month by the City of Elliot Lake, will be the eventual site of Elliot Lake's long-awaited Community Hub project.
Council made that call on a narrow 4-3 vote, split the same way as an earlier vote which approved purchase of the 12-acre site at 151 Ontario Ave., once the home of the old downtown mall.
It collapsed with tragic results in the summer of 2012.
Lucie Aylwin, 37, and Doloris Perizzolo, 74, died when a portion of the mall roof parking deck collapsed onto the food court area, where Alywin worked at the lottery ticket kiosk and the older woman was a customer. Efforts by rescue crews to reach the two women made national news.
On the pro side of the vote were Mayor Dan Marchisella and Councillors Luc Cyr, Ed Pearce and Tom Turner. On the nay side were the trio of Councillors Sandy Finamore, Norman Mann and Chris Patrie. A motion to defer a site decision failed to gain support after the mover was advised by Mayor Marchisella that the motion was non-debatable.
Councillor Chris Patrie had concerns that the old mall site – with the seven acres the city plans to retain for the Community Hub – would not provide sufficient parking. He told council he wanted to make sure the city does everything right and that no mistakes are made in haste.
He told Mayor Marchisella, "You've got the votes anyway. (4-3)."
Elliot Lake continues to work on getting money for the proposed Multiplex Community Hub from senior levels of government. The Hub is envisioned as a recreation complex containing a fitness facility, ice arena, five sheets of curling ice, and a swimming pool.
To get provincial funding for recreation projects, the city needs to have a shovel ready plan on the desk of Infrastructure Minister Monte McNaughton in about 8 weeks, in July. That would mean Elliot Lake would start construction soon after money from Queen's Park and Ottawa arrives.
On April 17, the ad hoc Community Hub Committee recommended the Hub be kept recreational with a theatre and arts component be established under their own roof at an undetermined location.
The decision to reject the Centennial Arena site on Spruce Avenue as a hub location was based on the downtown location offering more acreage than Centennial Arena and with its downtown access to multiple bus routes and other municipal services. As it's now envisioned, the Hub would occupy a little more than 98,000 square feet. That number could change before the final plan is approved.