Another Pipe Dream? Or Is This Serious?

This was part of the plan for the St. Marys Paper site.

The City has transferred its interest in a planned tourist attraction which should allow the development to proceed at a quicker pace.

The move allows the eligibility for NOHFC funding to fall on the lap of Justice Veldman, who is in the process of re-developing the former St. Mary’s Paper site into a multi-million dollar tourist attraction called “Destination North” The concept will make use of three historic buildings on the site, including the Pulp Tower that will be home to a permanent collection of Group of Seven paintings.

The City has sought a private developer for a major waterfront attraction for over 20 years on the property known as “Gateway”. Destination North is being built on the western portion of what is now known as the Canal District.

Destination North will include a tourist concept surrounding natural elements that the area is known for. Water, Wood and the area’s culture including First Nation. The site will also include a “Science North” type element called “Entomica” a hands on learning and educational centre focusing on insects.

So is this just another pie-in-the-sky dream of a young entrepreneur? The City has come close in recent years with many out of town developers only to see the idea fall apart. This plan however, seems to have some legs.

The development of the site began last year with the opening of a the Farmer’s Market last summer that has drawn thousands to the site. The Farmer’s market (Mill Market) is expected to move into its new permanent home in the near future occupying an historic building on the site known as the Machine Shop.

But what happens to the development if the concept doesn’t attract NOHFC funds? $5 million is available to municipalities through the provincial NOHFC with matching dollars required from the private sector.

This move takes the city off the hook legally and financially for any plans surrounding the western downtown development.