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Science centre plans supported with $250k from CEDC

Plans to launch a science centre have gotten a $250,000 boost from the Thunder Bay CEDC's tourism development fund.
Eric Zakrewski (CEDC CEO) and Emily Kerton (Project Lead)
Eric Zakrewski, head of the Thunder Bay CEDC, presents a $250,000 cheque to Emily Kerton, Northwest expansion project lead with Science North. (Submitted photo)

THUNDER BAY – Science North has received more support for its developing vision of a Thunder Bay science centre.

The Thunder Bay CEDC announced a $250,000 contribution to the project on Wednesday.

The funds come from the CEDC’s Tourism Development Fund, funded through a municipal accommodation tax of 4 per cent on short-term stays at local hotels, with revenues of roughly $2 million a year split evenly between the city and the CEDC.

The funds will support design work on a proposed 33,750-square-foot facility in Thunder Bay. Science North is developing the project alongside a potential 4,000-square-foot expansion of the Lake of the Woods Discovery Centre in Kenora

The project is currently in the schematic design phase, with Science North conducting consultations, securing funding, and engaging firms to develop building plans and select a location.

One location under consideration is at the waterfront, near the Pool 6 dock and a future art gallery. It’s the CEDC’s preferred location for the development, said tourism development officer John Cameron.

A feasibility study conducted in 2020 identified a gap in “cultural and science-based programming” in Thunder Bay, with Science North projecting the centre could engage up to 70,000 visitors a year, including more than 20,000 tourists.

The project has so far received more than $2 million in combined funding from the federal and provincial governments.

The funds are an expression of confidence a science centre will bring not just cultural, but economic benefits to the city, said Eric Zakrewski, CEO of the Thunder Bay CEDC.

“The expansion of Science North into Northwestern Ontario is great news for Thunder Bay,” he said in a statement. “The CEDC is thrilled to be able to support this project through the CEDC Tourism Development Fund.”

“The economic impacts of this project will be felt throughout our community. Science North will not only improve the quality of life for local residents through programming and education but will also drive tourism by promoting visitor attraction to our region.”

In a release, the CEDC shared estimates it assisted Science North in preparing that the science centre “will grow the tourism industry and the Thunder Bay economy by $20 million in value-added benefits and an additional $6 million annually through visitor spending and operations in the city.”

“The opportunities for Science North to grow in Thunder Bay and the region are well aligned with the city's vision for a thriving and sustainable community,” said Ryan Land, director of education and northern programs with Science North.

“Funding received from all three levels of government will help us complete the schematic design phase of the project, which will give us a better idea of where the science centre will be located, what it will look like and what the experiences will be when you visit."


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