NOHFC invests over $2 million in Island ventures

by Tom Sasvari

GORE BAY—Among the seven different projects reflected in the $2,705,273 funding announcement for Manitoulin Island by the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation (NOHFC), two new business initiatives will be assisted.

“I am pleased to announce investments in two new businesses on the Island,” said Mike Brown, MPP for Algoma-Manitoulin who along with Michael Gravelle, Minister of Northern Development, Mines and Forestry and Chair of the NOHFC. The announcement last Thursday evening at the Manitoulin Island Country Club (MICC).

“First, TerraStar Building Products is receiving $115,000 to establish a manufacturing facility in Manitowaning,” said Mr. Brown. “This investment is helping business partners Rob Maguire and Merdick McFarlane undertake renovations and acquire equipment to produce roll-formed metal roofing and siding panels.”

“I understand that the plant will also produce lines of associated trims and accessories for their clients in the Northern Ontario market place,” said Mr. Brown. “I congratulate Rob and Mike for launching this business, which will create seven new good jobs.”

“I am also pleased to announced that under its Young Entrepreneur Program, the NOHFC is providing $9,282 for the start-up of Shears, a new beauty salon in Manitowaning,” said Mr. Brown. “This funding will help business-owner Laura Ashley Case purchase a tanning bed and salon furniture to launch her enterprise.”

Mr. Brown also made announcements of funding to improve safety and runway conditions at the Gore Bay-Manitoulin Airport; renovate the Gore Bay Wharf Centre to help support local artists; upgrade and improve safety at the Meldrum Bay waterfront; build a new education and business centre for the M’Chigeeng First Nation that will provide learning opportunities through computer labs, a resource centre and support new businesses; establish a new manufacturing facility along with new equipment in Manitowaning and updating a digital mapping system to help the Manitoulin Planning Board with future planning and zoning.

“We are making, and will continue to make, considerable efforts to drive our Northern economy in a direction for success,” said Mr. Brown. “We are proud to support the progressive ideas on Manitoulin Island.”

“We are committed to helping various entrepreneurs and organizations to develop themselves and grow the economy,” said Mr. Gravelle. “I commend the creativity of their initiatives and look forward to their ongoing success.”

“I am grateful to be invited here today to help make these announcements with your MPP for this riding, Mike Brown and members of the NOHFC board,” said Mr. Gravelle. “I couldn’t be happier to be here, on a beautiful day and have this event hosted at such a beautiful golf course.”

“This type of funding announcement is important to all of us,” stated Mr. Gravelle. “The board advocates of the economy and we have representatives on the board that represent all areas of Northern Ontario, including Carolyn Lane-Rock here on the Island. And it is great to be greeted by Gore Bay Mayor Ron Lane.”

Mr. Gravelle pointed out the current Liberal government set aside an additional $10 million in the last budget for NOHFC, and over the past four years has increased funding $10 million for each year, for a current budget of $100 million.

“This funding has supported Gore Bay and Manitoulin Island with many tremendous projects,” said Mr. Gravelle. He acknowledged the work of Esther Spadzinski, Northern Development Officer-Sudbury Area Team, with the Ministry of Northern Development, Mines and Forestry. “One of the best things about being a minister is working with people like Esther. All our ministry staff employees work so hard, and it is an exciting day to be here with you again.”

Mr. Brown welcomed Mr. Gravelle to Gore Bay again for the NOHFC board meeting and the funding announcement, pointing out the group also met locally four years ago. “We are good friends and have known each other since 1995 when he was elected to the legislature.”

“I’m really pleased to be here today,” said Mr. Brown, noting, “I was one of the MPPs that voted in support of the NOHFC fund being established in 1988, and I am delighted to join Minister Gravelle and the board members of the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation at this reception.”

“As the minister mentioned earlier, we are delighted that in the Ontario budget tabled in March, Finance Minister Dwight Duncan confirmed the government’s commitment to add $10 million to its annual contribution to the NOHFC. This brings our government’s annual investment in the fund to $100 million starting this fiscal year.”

“I was a rookie MPP when the Peterson government established the NOHFC in 1988,” continued Mr. Brown. “That was a proud moment for our Northern caucus and I am very proud to see the fund attain this $100 million a year commitment to northerners.”

“The NOHFC fund remains one of our government’s key tools for building a stronger, more competitive economy in the North,” said Mr. Brown. ” And it will play a critical role in supporting activities being advanced through our new Growth Plan for Northern Ontario.”

“The NOHFC’s record of investment in Algoma-Manitoulin is second to none. Since the fall of 2003, the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund has committed nearly $62 million in more than 440 projects across our region.”

“Today, I am delighted to bring news of Ontario government funding in seven projects on Manitoulin Island,” said Mr. Brown. “The first four of today’s projects are supported under the Heritage Fund’s Infrastructure and Community Development Program. “First, I am pleased to announce funding to the Kenjgewin Teg Educational Institute to build an education and business incubator centre on the M’Chigeeng First Nation.”

“This project will help replace portable buildings with a new centre that will include training rooms, a common area and an adult education facility,” said Mr. Brown. “Since 1994, KTEI has been providing important educational and training services to members of eight First Nation communities on Manitoulin Island. I am confident that this new building, with computer labs, a resource centre and a business incubator site, will serve the needs of the island for years to come. I am especially pleased that this project will create five new jobs.”

“Secondly today, I am announcing an investment of $842,996 to the Gore Bay-Manitoulin Airport Commission to renovate and expand the airport’s main runway,” continued Mr. Brown. “This project will also provide for the repaving of two taxiways and the main apron.”

“I know that the airport representatives have been working diligently toward improving that facility and I am glad that the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund could support these upgrades which will ensure the safety and long-term viability of the airport,” said Mr. Brown. “In addition, this project will help retain some 180 jobs at local, private and public sector employers.”

“The third NOHFC-funded project is an investment of $400,000 for further improvements on the Meldrum Bay waterfront,” said Mr. Brown. “A few years ago, the Heritage Fund supported the breakwall and waterfront centre projects and we are now very pleased to invest in this third and final phase led by the Dawson Citizens Improvement Association.”

“This third phase of the project includes building 20 new serviced docking slips with electrical and water services to accommodate the need for more modern facilities as well as the installation of new waste pumping services to better protect the environment,” continued Mr. Brown. “I know that supporters of the project are particularly pleased that wharf upgrades will help accommodate commercial boating needs and also provide designated service areas for transient and seasonal boating traffic.” He noted the official opening will take place on Sunday, June 12 as part of the Taste of Manitoulin program.

“The fourth project funded under the Heritage Fund’s Infrastructure and Community Development Program is the Wharf Centre in Gore Bay,” said Mr. Brown. “I am pleased to announce an NOHFC investment of more than $183,000 to help the local museum board conduct major renovations at the centre.”

The wharf project will see the creation of eight new studio spaces as rental units on the first floor as well as a large display area on the second floor to welcome a marine archives exhibit for visitors, said Mr. Brown. “I am glad that our support for this project will help create employment for eight artists and provide summer jobs for some four students.”

Mr. Brown said, “I am also pleased today to bring news of provincial investments in three other projects supported by the NOHFC. I am happy to announce funding of more than $154,000 to help the Manitoulin Planning Board complete a Geographic Information System for the Island. This G.I.S. project will be a vital tool that will help the nine participating Manitoulin Island municipalities and unincorporated areas plan for the future.”

Mr. Brown explained, “G.I.S. is a valuable part of the planning process as it provides significant geographic information to better plan for public works projects, for emergency services, for recreation and for future economic development opportunities.”

“Many northern communities have discovered that G.I.S. has greatly helped document and plan municipal infrastructure initiatives, including water, waste water, transportation and parks projects. I am confident that the Manitoulin communities will also discover that it’s a great tool,” added Mr. Brown.