SAULT STE. MARIE, Ontario – The Ontario government has provided $1 million through the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation (NOHFC) to support two local tourism projects in Sault Ste Marie. The funding helped enhance the Algoma Conservatory of Music by improving their facilities and expanding their cultural experiences, as well as assist FutureSSM in their tourism marketing and services. This investment in the arts, culture and entertainment industries is building a stronger Ontario by revitalizing the tourism sector, attracting visitors, boosting economic growth and creating jobs in the city.
“I’m proud of our government’s investment of $1 million in Sault Ste Marie, with $500,000 each to the Agawa Canyon Tour Train and Algoma Conservatory of Music, who both operate in the Canal District,” said Ross Romano, MPP for Sault Ste Marie.
“After persevering through the last two years, our city is ready to showcase our incredible talent and our natural beauty. This funding will create 13 full-time jobs along with a number of part-time and seasonal positions. I’m very excited to see investments like this that help us add to and promote all that our city has to offer.”
The Algoma Conservatory of Music received $500,000 to renovate and redevelop the historic building it occupies in the Mill Square district, adding a recording studio and a 170-seat performance venue called The Loft. The state-of-the-art recording studio boasts specialized equipment with direct connections to The Loft and Machine Shop, a separate 700-seat special event venue, that allows artists to combine sound and video with live performances, creating a unique concert experience in Northern Ontario.
“We are thrilled that COVID restrictions are lifting and that we can finally launch our new performance venue, The Loft, and our professional recording studio,” said Guy Traficante, Principal, Algoma Conservatory of Music. “The financial support from the Ontario government was critical in enabling the completion of the project. This establishes the Algoma Conservatory of Music as a regional centre for music education, performance and recording. It will give local and regional artists, as well as Canadian and international touring artists, an exceptional venue to perform in and produce top-quality audio and video content – all under one roof.
“It also enables the conservatory to launch a full season of mixed-genre concerts, special events and recording sessions. The combination makes Sault Ste Marie a destination for professional musicians and even more attractive as a year-round tourist hub. In a post-COVID environment, the Canal District – full of food and entertainment venues, including the conservatory – will be a centre where the whole community can once again celebrate being together.”
FutureSSM, a division of the Community Economic Development and Enterprise Services Department at the City of Sault Ste. Marie, received $500,000 to develop a global marketing campaign to attract more visitors from southern Ontario, the United States and around the world to the iconic Agawa Canyon Tour Train. The funding was also used to enhance the rail passenger experience with the further development of the Group of Seven trip itinerary, and the purchase of GPS-enabled flat-screen technology that allows narration and storytelling at key points along the journey, to truly immerse riders in the history and geophysical significance of the area and Agawa Canyon.
“Supporting local tourism initiatives creates jobs, keeps the North competitive and encourages new investment,” said Greg Rickford, minister of northern development, mines, natural resources and forestry. “Our government’s targeted funding is leading to economic prosperity in our communities and providing real opportunities for northerners.”
“Tourism enhances and celebrates communities and brings people together through a shared appreciation of our unique and diverse attractions, experiences and events,” said Lisa MacLeod, minister of heritage, sport, tourism and culture industries. “With these two new projects, Sault Ste Marie is strengthening and growing tourism in the North – and reinforcing that Ontario is the best place to live, work, visit and play.”
The NOHFC promotes economic prosperity across Northern Ontario by providing financial assistance to projects – big and small, rural and urban – that stimulate growth, job creation and skills development. Since June 2018, the NOHFC has invested more than $473 million in 4,244 projects in Northern Ontario, leveraging more than $1.5 billion in investment and creating or sustaining over 6,600 jobs.