THUNDER BAY — The Ontario government has released details of two dozen Northern Ontario Heritage Fund corporation investments, including two in Northwestern Ontario.
Individual recipients were notified as far back as two years ago that their applications had been approved, but Northern Development Minister Greg Rickford released the complete list Tuesday at the Northern Ontario Tourism Summit in Thunder Bay.
In the Northwest, the successful applicants were the Silver Islet General Store and the Municipality of Red Lake.
Silver Islet Store received $200,000 to support the reopening of the historic general store and tearoom as a retail, food and educational tourist destination.
Co-owner Sandy Korkola says that, to date, she and her husband Jeff have used the funding to switch to green energy (solar) and to replace the old roof and original windows in order to preserve the building and its contents.
Moving forward, Korkola said, the money will help pay for work on the foundation, electrical updates, siding, an interpretive area in the store, and the preservation and display of artifacts.
About $370,000 was approved for Red Lake to produce technical drawings for a proposed new arena and performing arts centre.
Most of the total of $4.9 million in NOHFC funding announced by Rickford went to tourism-focused projects in communities in Northeastern Ontario.
But it also included $300,000 for Destination Northern Ontario to transition the delivery of training services to an online platform in response to COVID-19, and $70,000 to create francophone travel itineraries showcasing eight partner communities including Thunder Bay and Kenora.
The application for the Silver Islet General Store project was approved in 2020.
TBnewswatch asked for clarification from the government concerning the lag in making public announcements about funding.
A source said that, due to the nature of the NOHFC program, projects may be announced publicly at any time during the process, and are often grouped together for announcements in a particular sector at a relevant event.
In this case, the source said, it was felt that the appropriate event was a major tourism conference.
"These investments will help northern tourism operations expand their offerings, create jobs and promote regional prosperity," Rickford said in a statement.
Since June 2018, the NOHFC has invested more than $575 million in 4,835 projects in Northern Ontario.
According to the government, the funding has leveraged more than $1.86 billion in investment and have created or sustained 7,770 jobs.