Northeast Town asked to pony up for portion of cruise ship coalition

LITTLE CURRENT—Bruce O’Hare, Lakeshore Excursions proprietor, made a deputation to the Northeast Town council recently, with support from the Little Current Business Improvement Area (BIA), requesting that the municipality  contributes a portion of the fee for the area’s membership with the Great Lakes Cruising Coalition (GLCC).

Mr. O’Hare explained that the GLCC is a not-for-profit membership organization that represents publicly owned ports, towns, cities and Great Lakes communities that promote the cruise ship industry on the Great Lakes.

“There are similar associations world wide, but their job is to attract cruise ships to Great Lake membership ports,” Mr. O’Hare told council.

Historically, Mr. O’Hare explained that Lakeshore Excursions and the BIA paid the membership fee for the first few years, followed by the municipality and for the last five years, the Great Spirit Circle Trail (GSCT).

“It is time to bring that partnership back together and collectively ensure our membership in this key organization,” said Mr. O’Hare.

He explained that the Little Current BIA had agreed to contribute $500, Lakeshore Excursions $1,000 and the GSCT $1,500 and was looking to the municipality to contribute the remaining $2,000 of the $5,000 annual membership fee.

Mr. O’Hare explained that when the ships come to the Port of Little Current they leave half of the cruisers downtown to shop for four hours while they take the other half on excursions to the GSCT, to Kagawong to go kayaking and see the falls and hike up the Cup and Saucer.

He spoke of the financial benefits to the community such as the cruise ship dockage, in addition to the money spent shopping in Little Current. 

“They take away memories and leave behind money,” said Mr. O’Hare.

He also stressed how positive the future looked for Great Lakes cruising and the importance of the Port of Little Current being at the table.

BIA member and Little Current downtown business owner Anne Marie Thibault spoke to council about the benefits of the cruise ships to her business Dreamer’s Cove.

“I purchased Dreamer’s Cove last Haweater Weekend and was really able to see the benefits of the cruise ships,” said Ms. Thibault. “The cruisers are easily identified with name tags so I know that many came into the store last summer and they really helped me get through the season. They helped all of us (downtown business owners). They are good for our economy and I hope you will agree to this request.”

Fellow BIA member and Manitoulin Expositor publisher Rick McCutcheon provided council with some background on the cruise ships and the Port of Little Current’s membership with the coalition.

He explained the uniqueness of having cruise ships dock in Little Current and that Parry Sound is the next closest port they visit.

“When they started coming people came as far as Sudbury to see the ships,” said Mr. McCutcheon. “It was a big deal. Even now, people come out to see the ships. It is something special for our community.”

As the Northeast Town council does not make decisions the same night as a deputation request, council will discuss the request at its Tuesday, May 17 meeting.