THUNDER BAY — The process of reorganizing and refurbishing the Wilderness Discovery Centre at Lake Shebandowan has reached the point where the facility is ready to reopen.
Reservations are being accepted for this summer, and the facility is already about 60 per cent booked.
Wilderness Discovery was formed as a non-profit corporation two years ago with the involvement of Thunder Bay-area Rotary clubs, Hill City Kinsmen, HAGI and the Shebandowan Lake Campers' Association.
The facility's main purpose is to focus on individuals with physical disabilities, as well as veterans and their families. But it is also being made available to other non-profit groups as well as for corporate retreats, family reunions and other gatherings.
Fort William Rotary's Bob Hookham estimates that the final price tag for renovations will be over $1 million.
Much of the work on the cabins and apartments has been done but repairs and upgrading in some areas will continue into next year.
Hookham said organizers are excited about the acquisition of a new, accessible boat that will be launched this summer.
The Princecraft pontoon vessel is specially designed to accommodate people who use wheelchairs.
"It suits our needs really well. The deck is completely clear, where the wheelchairs can roll right onto it. And there's special marine deck chairs for those that aren't in a wheelchair," Hookham explained.
Fundraising for the renovations continues through projects such as the Rotary house draw and a draw for a boat and other prizes, for which tickets are currently being sold.
This summer's grand opening ceremony at the lodge will include a tribute to the late Kevin Johnson, a Minnesota resident who campaigned passionately to prevent the permanent closure of the Wilderness Discovery Centre.
"We're going to do a dedication to him with a bench down at the beach, facing west into the sunset," Hookham said.