Some Island communities to receive federal funding boost

photo by Isobel Harry

MANITOULIN—Three municipalities on Manitoulin Island will be receiving funding through FedNor to fuel various infrastructure projects in their community. 

The honourable Patty Hajdu, minister of Indigenous services and minister responsible for FedNor and member of parliament for Thunder Bay-Superior North, announced Government of Canada investments totalling $10,901,275 through the Canada community revitalization fund (CCRF) for 29 projects in support of municipalities, organizations and First Nation communities across Northern Ontario. 

Billings township, the Township of Tehkummah and the Town of Northeastern Manitoulin and the Islands (NEMI) have received funding.

Billings has received funding in the amount of $209,538 that will be used, “to increase tourism and economic opportunities. The funding will help transform the downtown ice rink and surrounding greenspace into a multi-use, all-season recreational area. This priority project includes installing a roof, upgraded lighting, rink boards, player benches and accessibility enhancements to ensure access to those with mobility issues. Once complete, the space will also host an outdoor  vendors’ market, skating rink (already operating), winterfest activities, ice and ball hockey events, as well as social gatherings and community events. This community facility will help strengthen various sectors of economy by attracting more visitors and creating new business opportunities for local vendors.

“Absolutely, this is fantastic great news,” stated Billings Mayor Ian Anderson. “Credit has to go to the funder, and in particular our office staff who never gave up on this proposal; this was not the first application they made for funding. Their perseverance paid off. And there was a whole bunch of people on a committee and volunteers who worked toward this.”

“This funding is important to the community, it’s a win-win for everyone and we are pretty excited to have received it,” added Mayor Anderson 

Tehkummah Township will receive funding in the amount of $134,000. This funding will go toward revitalizing the community park and trail system that connects Main Street in South Baymouth to local waterfront areas. This CCRF investment will support improvements to the Bowerman Nature Trail and John Budd Park, including repairs to the waterfront trail bridge and boardwalk, installation of new signage and the creation of three rest areas with barrier-free benches and picnic tables. The project will also support waterfront enhancements such as upgrades to the outdoor pavilion including screened walls, concrete pad repairs, a new sound system and stage lighting as well as upgraded public washrooms, playground equipment and the addition of a recreational vehicle pumpout  station.

“It’s very good news that we are getting this funding,” said Tehkummah Reeve Dave Jaggard. “Shelba Millette, our economic development had applied for the funding and we were waiting to hear about the funding, especially for the Bowerman Trail which needs maintenance. Dick and Eunice (Bowerman) made and maintained a trail for a number of years but haven’t been able to maintain it the past couple of years. It will now be upgraded and fully accessible.” 

“And for the John Budd Park, it couldn’t be could be used more until the restrictions are lifted, and people will be able to gather at the park again,” said Reeve Jaggard. “Without the funding being provided, we could never have done this on our own municipal budget.”

Reeve Jaggard noted that just a few weeks ago, Tehkummah received a $76,000 community building fund-capital grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) to address a community need by retrofitting the Tehkummah/South Baymouth beach and park area located on Duck’s Bay road  with new barrier-free washrooms and safe physical fitness equipment.

“This 100 percent OTF funding initiative from the province will allow us to repair and retrofit this entire area to meet safety standards and be barrier-free, which will extend the beach facilities lifespan by decades and increase its use,” said Reeve Jaggard. The gazebo will also be repaired and be barrier-free, which will extend its use for years as well.”

The Town of Northeastern Manitoulin and the Islands is receiving FedNor funding of $125,165. The funds will support the revitalization of recreation facilities at Little Current’s Low Island Park. The goal of the project is to stimulate increased tourism, recreational and social activity by enhancing this downtown waterfront asset. Specifically, this strategic investment will support the development of a fully accessible running/walking track, upgrades to fencing at the baseball field, and the expansion of the skateboard park to include a pump track, a specialized track with various ramps and walls for use by skateboarders and cyclists.

“Wow,” stated NEMI Mayor Al MacNevin to the funding news. “We’ve applied a few times for funding for this project. Before COVID hit, the Community Service Advisory Committee had made these recommendations to council. This is the first time I have heard of this funding. It is great news for the committee and the community.” 

“These strategic investments demonstrate the government of Canada’s commitment to support economic development in communities of every size, in every region of Northern Ontario,” said Minister Hajdu. “We have helped put small- and medium-sized businesses on the road to recovery. Now it’s time to invest in the shared public spaces that will safely bring people together and help communities grow and thrive well into the future.”