Northern Ontario attractions to benefit from NOHFC investment

Arctic Voices, a new special exhibition at Science North, will take you on a journey to this fascinating and changing region.

SUDBURY – Science North and the Cochrane Polar Bear Habitat are collaborating on a project that will produce new visitor experiences for both sites during the 2014 season. This marks the second time that both centres have worked together on a mutually beneficial initiative; Science North and the Cochrane Polar Bear Habitat first joined forces in 2007 during the run of the special exhibition Ends of the Earth. This new partnership aims to boost tourism in Northern Ontario by encouraging first-time and repeat visits to both communities. The initiative will also support existing jobs and create new ones.

This afternoon, the Honourable Michael Gravelle, Minister of Northern Development and Mines and Chair of the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation (NOHFC) announced an NOHFC investment of $500,000 in support of Science North’s new blockbuster exhibition Arctic Voices, including the development of new polar bear and Arctic-themed experiences for the Cochrane Polar Bear Habitat.

“Science North continues to produce amazing exhibits that attract visitors and tourists to Sudbury and help generate significant revenue for the centre as they tour North American cities. I am very pleased that the NOHFC is helping enhance the centre’s visitor experience,” says Michael Gravelle, Minister of Northern Development and Mines and Chair of the NOHFC.

“Science North is one of the North’s major attractions and our investments are helping it sustain and grow its standing as a premiere tourist destination,” states Rick Bartolucci, MPP for Sudbury. “By supporting this newest travelling exhibit we are enhancing Greater Sudbury’s tourism and educational activities.”

Facebook photo from Cochrane Polar Bear Habitat
Facebook photo from Cochrane Polar Bear Habitat

Arctic Voices Exhibition at Science North

Arctic Voices, a new blockbuster exhibition co-produced by Science North and the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa, is now open in Sudbury. Find out what affects the Arctic and in turn, how the Arctic has an impact on the whole planet. Challenge your perceptions of the Arctic and discover a colourful land that’s actually closer to your own backyard than you think.

Arctic Voices will run through the summer of 2014 – Science North’s peak tourist season. During the science centre’s 30th anniversary year Science North will also stage special programming to complement the Arctic theme of the exhibition.

“Travelling exhibitions are important to Northern Ontario. They attract tourists to the North and provide a significant element of change at our science centres, which is critical to our success,” states Guy Labine, Science North CEO. “We’re thankful for the province’s support on this exciting project and are looking forward to also working with the Cochrane Polar Bear Habitat. The opportunity to work together to develop exhibits for that facility, as well as programming which benefits both our centres, translates into solid economic benefits for both of our communities and the North.”

Arctic Voices closes at Science North on September 1, 2014. It will then begin its international tour, when it opens at the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa on December 5, 2014. Arctic Voices is the 10th travelling exhibition to be produced by Science North. Proceeds from lease revenues for this exhibition are reinvested back into Science North – Northern Ontario’s science centre – to continue attracting tourists.

New Visitor Experiences for Cochrane Polar Habitat

The Cochrane Polar Bear Habitat, the only captive bear facility in the world dedicated solely to polar bears, is another driver of tourism for the North. As is the case for Science North, ever-changing exhibits are crucial to maintaining the interest of current audiences and for growing new audiences.

As part of this new partnership both centres will work together to create new visitor experiences for the Cochrane Polar Bear Habitat. Some of these new visitor experiences include a customized video theatre, interactive and participatory experiences, and technical equipment for live links. The new technical equipment will allow for the sharing of visitor programs between both sites. Sudbury audiences will be able to use the technology to “Meet the Bears” at the Cochrane Polar Bear Habitat. In Cochrane, visitors will be able to teleconference with Science North and “Meet the Scientists”. Existing interactive experiences at the Cochrane Polar Bear Habitat will also be updated with new content. All the changes aim to create a refreshed attraction that appeals to tourists and encourages first-time and repeat visitation.

The collaboration will also provide opportunities for Science North and the Cochrane Polar Bear Habitat to work together to cross-promote each other’s attractions and develop packages for themed experiences, which will result in mutual benefits and increased tourism activity for Northern Ontario.

“On behalf of Cochrane and the Cochrane Polar Bear Habitat we are pleased and appreciate the NOHFC’s support in facilitating an ongoing partnership between Science North and the Cochrane Polar Bear Habitat,” says His Worship, Peter Politis, Mayor of Cochrane. “This investment allows the Cochrane Polar Bear Habitat to remain a strong contributor to tourism development in the North. Lastly, I’d like to thank Science North for, once again, including us in this exciting project.”

Skill Development and Mentorship Program

The Science North/ Collège Boréal skill development and mentorship program, aims to develop the skills of a new generation of individuals interested in careers in designing, developing and building quality visitor experiences, as well as in stage management.

Collège Boréal students enrolled in the carpentry and stage management programs have already played a big role in the construction and installation of a main component of the Arctic Voices exhibition –the Whales in the Arctic Theatre. Their involvement in this project is an extension of the skill development and mentorship program that began in 2012 with Science North’s 9th travelling exhibition, The Science of Ripley’s Believe It or Not!®.

“Students at Collège Boréal have truly benefitted from this partnership with Science North. They are proud of the work they have accomplished and excited to know that their contribution will be showcased in this travelling exhibit,” declares Mr. Pierre Riopel, President of Collège Boréal. “Thanks to this hands-on experience, they now can appreciate the many career possibilities available to them in the future.”

“The partnership with Collège Boréal, with respect to Science North’s travelling exhibit development, offers an opportunity to cross-train students in the carpentry and stage management programs while teaching them about the exciting and creative world of exhibit development and delivery,” states Brenda Koziol, Science North Senior Scientist, Travelling Exhibits. “Their involvement in our travelling exhibit projects translates into a greater understanding of the varied and unique career opportunities in these respective fields, and will also contribute to the long-term sustainability of exhibit development in Northern Ontario.”

Economic Impact

  • An increase in tourism at Science North and the Cochrane Polar Bear Habitat will result in positive economic benefits for Northern Ontario.
  • Job Creation – this NOHFC investment will help to retain five existing jobs, while creating an additional 19 jobs in Northern Ontario. Creation of jobs will result during development and construction of exhibits and delivery of programs. Tourism is also a labour intensive industry that operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. An increase in tourism will promote opportunities for employment for young people and for people interested in part time or casual work.
  • Local Spending – A thriving tourism industry translates into more hotel bookings, additional profits for restaurants, retail businesses and the service industry.
  • Travel – Northern Ontario is a vast region and tourists will travel between communities, adding to the economic impact.
  • Population Growth – Tourism can act as a shop window for the lifestyle of the area. It is increasingly common for people who visit and are impressed with the area to return as residents, thereby increasing demand for housing and other services.