On the Waterfront: putting communities on the path to success

Sunset Stroll
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North Bay’s historic waterfront promenade is attracting large numbers of tourists and locals alike as the city continues to pursue an ambitious development plan for the downtown’s crown jewel.

Throughout Northern Ontario’s history, dozens of towns and cities were established and then grew on the shores of the region’s many freshwater lakes and rivers. Today, waterfronts continue to offer communities the opportunity to strengthen their economies through a wide variety of commercial, recreational and cultural uses. Waterfront development and the upgrading of related infrastructure has become an important economic driver for many communities, leading to increased tourism, business expansion and job creation.

For over a decade, FedNor has helped Northern Ontario communities turn their vision of a beautiful, sustainable and prosperous waterfront into reality. In November 2012, FedNor announced its support for one such project in Terrace Bay, a community located on the northern shores of Lake Superior. With the help of FedNor funding, the township will now be able to determine the best development options for the Terrace Bay beach. Once work on a detailed waterfront development plan is complete, it will provide a roadmap for targeted investments to help grow the community’s economy. “This analysis project is key to enable us to pursue our best bets to strengthen and grow our tourism industry,” said Michael King, Mayor of Terrace Bay. “After revitalizing our downtown, this is the next logical step for us in attracting more visitors to the area.”

Far south of Terrace Bay is Meldrum Bay on Manitoulin Island, where the final phase of a waterfront development project is nearing completion as a result of FedNor support. Spearheaded by the Township of Dawson Citizens Improvement Association, the marina’s overhaul includes dock upgrades, infrastructure improvements to the existing wharf, plus enhanced fuel and waste disposal services for the many boaters who navigate the waters of Lake Huron’s North Channel. The President of the Citizens Improvement Association, Wendy Van Every says the project is helping to revitalize her community. “This will be a long-term economic driver for the Manitoulin region by enhancing tourism as well as creating and maintaining jobs.”

Manitoulin’s many ports-of-call
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The recently expanded boardwalk and docking slips in the Town of Little Current is one of several destinations and harbours on Manitoulin Island that has boaters and sailors charting a course for the north channel of Lake Huron and Georgian Bay every summer.

Gore Bay, Little Current, Manitouwaning, Hilton Beach, Bruce Mines, Parry Sound, Huntsville, Gravenhurst, West Nipissing, Temiskaming Shores, Virginiatown, Moonbeam, Nipigon, Thunder Bay, Dryden, Red Rock and Kenora; the list of communities eager to showcase the natural beauty of their shoreline and to capitalize on its economic potential keeps growing. During the past decade, FedNor has invested $12.5 million in over 40 waterfront-related projects that in turn are strengthening community economic development and attracting private sector investment.

In 2002, the City of North Bay endorsed a plan to redesign and redevelop its waterfront. Today, the city’s picturesque promenade stretches for more than three kilometres along the shore of Lake Nipissing. Amenities include multi-use recreational trails, an arboretum of plants, trees and ornamental grass, a giant playground, picnic shelters, a performing arts stage, a miniature steam train ride and carousel, plus a 250 boat slip marina and swimming beach. An underpass constructed through railway property also provides a direct link between the waterfront and the city’s downtown. As a result, the waterfront development initiative has become the heart and soul of the community, as well as a significant tourism attraction, while supporting the immediate and long-term economic prosperity of the downtown area.

Perhaps Nipissing MPP and former North Bay Mayor Vic Fedeli, who led the city’s redevelopment efforts ten years ago, said it best about the value and importance of an enhanced community waterfront. “Communities deserve a beautiful waterfront to share with their residents,” he commented, “but also to help attract tourists to visit and perhaps stay a little longer, which is direct economic development for the North.”

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