Ontario Supporting Year-round Sports Tourism in Thunder Bay

Published on October 19, 2021

Rick Lang - Mayor Bill Mauro - Minister Greg Rickford - Diane Imrie

THUNDER BAY – The Ontario government is providing more than $3.3 million to five local projects to promote and increase year-round sports tourism in the City of Thunder Bay. The funding will create jobs and strengthen the regional economy.

“Northwestern Ontario is home to a dynamic, vibrant tourism sector that attracts tourists from across Canada and the United States,” said Greg Rickford, Minister of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry. “However, to keep our sports tourism sector competitive, it’s critical that we continue to support local businesses and communities. Today’s investment directly contributes to our northern tourism industry’s sustainability, prosperity and growth.”

Funding for the projects is being delivered through the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation (NOHFC:)

· $1 million for the Thunder Bay Community Tennis Centre to install a year-round air-supported dome over six courts

· $934,875 for Mount Baldy Ski Area to renovate facilities and turn its family-run ski hill into a year-round tourism destination

· $760,000 for Blacksheep Mountain Bike Club to develop a year-round mountain bike trail network in Trowbridge Forest

· $551,276 for the City of Thunder Bay to renovate and modernize Fort William Gardens and Fort William Curling Club in order to host the 2022 Canadian women’s curling championships – the Scotties Tournament of Hearts

· $57,671 for Lappe Ski Centre – a world-class cross-country ski facility – to build an accessible commercial kitchen to host year-round events

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 $374 million in 3,713 projects in Northern Ontario, leveraging more than $1.3 billion in investment and creating or sustaining over 5,500 jobs.

“Our government is committed to supporting Ontario’s tourism industry, including sports tourism facilities such as these five projects in Thunder Bay that build a sense of community, attract visitors and boost regional employment,” said Lisa MacLeod, Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries. “These investments contribute to the

province’s economic and social well-being, helping Ontario emerge from the pandemic as a global destination of choice for sport and recreation enthusiasts and tourists from around the world.”

Quick Facts

· On February 11, 2021, the Ontario government launched new and improved NOHFC programs that support more projects in rural northern communities and make it easier for more people and businesses to apply. The programs target existing and emerging markets, provide more work opportunities for Indigenous people and address the skilled labour shortage in the North.

· The Ontario government recently launched the Ontario Tourism Recovery Program, a $100 million grant program to support established Ontario-based tourism businesses in the attractions, accommodations and transportation sectors. Applications are due by November 10, 2021.


“The Thunder Bay Community Tennis Centre sincerely appreciates Minister Rickford and the Ontario government’s funding support for our air-supported indoor court initiative. The Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation funding is a testament to the dedication and hard work of our Thunder Bay Community Tennis Centre volunteers and brings us one step closer to playing four season tennis, pickleball, and other racquet sports within our facility.” – Mark Facca, President, Thunder Bay Community Tennis Centre

“This support from the Ontario government has helped us with the necessary upgrades to expand our winter season and to become a four-season operation. As a result of this funding, we have been able to increase our chairlift and snowmaking capacity, add many new kilometers of hiking trails, be better positioned to host community events and attract people to the Municipality of Shuniah and the City of Thunder Bay.” – Jason Kardas, Co-Owner, Mount Baldy Ski Area

“Thanks to the substantial contribution from the Ontario government, Blacksheep Mountain Bike Club, in partnership with the City of Thunder Bay Parks & Open Spaces Section, has the final funding in place to complete the Trowbridge Forest Recreation Trail Master Plan. Once complete, Thunder Bay will have over 35km of top-quality mountain biking trails, a world-class bike park and infrastructure for hosting large provincial and national-level events.” – Mark Maranzan, Vice President, Blacksheep Mountain Bike Club

“This project with the support of the Ontario government helps re-establish the Fort William Gardens as a premier venue for major sport events like the upcoming 2022 Scotties Tournament of Hearts, concerts and other events. We could not host the Scotties without this project. The Gardens has served this community well for 70 years and I am excited about the events and tourists we will be able to attract in the future thanks to this

investment. The upgrades to the Gardens and Fort William Curling Club will help us bring more events to the city and enhance the event experience for both the participants and the spectators.” – Bill Mauro, Mayor, City of Thunder Bay

“The approved funding by the Ontario government will enhance Lappe Ski Centre’s ability to host large events, such as national and provincial cross-country ski competitions, which bring visitors to the city from across Canada and beyond. Lappe Ski Centre is an integral part of the Thunder Bay ski community and we are excited to improve our facility and welcome visitors to experience Thunder Bay and the region.” – Tuija Puiras, Owner, Lappe Ski Centre