· A feature movie is being shot in Sault Ste. Marie this month. The Void was originally scheduled to be filmed this past summer but was rescheduled to the fall. Set in an isolated hospital, the horror movie has six local locations of filming, with the principal settings being the former Sir James Dunn high school and General Hospital sites. When a movie production comes to the community, the SSMEDC team provides assistance to the visiting crew and helps the production guide through Municipal approval processes. Over the past several years, the a number of feature films have been shot in Sault Ste. Marie, including Citizen Gangster, Irvine Welsh’s Ecstasy, Swearnet: The Movie, Breakout, Foxfire, and Remember. The latter film starred Academy Award-winning actors Christopher Plummer and Martin Landau.
More than 30,000 passengers rode the Agawa Canyon Tour Train in 2015, which was the best season since 2007. Earlier this year, following a partnership agreement, Tourism Sault Ste. Marie assumed all marketing responsibilities from the attraction’s owner, CN. A focus was shifted to digital and television campaigns in strategic markets in Ontario and the U.S. With this concerted effort, coupled with more Americans getting passports, 2015 was very encouraging for the tour train. Another reason for this year’s success is that Tourism Sault Ste. Marie and its partners recently developed a package that focuses on the Group of Seven. The visitor offering includes a stop at the Art Gallery of Algoma to view original paintings and a ride to Agawa Canyon to see sites made famous by the Canadian artists. The Group of Seven package attracted 15 motor coach tour buses.
· On Wednesday, airport staff, Board members, air carriers and partners gathered to announce that, for the first time since forming in 1998, the Airport Development Corporation processed 200,000 passengers in a 12-month period. Dan Hollingsworth, the SSMEDC’s Executive Director of Business Development, was one of several speakers at the event. He spoke of the many successful initiatives the SSMEDC and airport undertook over the years. In 2007, they attracted JD Aero, an aircraft maintenance and overhaul company. In 2008, they landed Sunwing Airlines. In 2011, they attracted Porter Airlines. In 2015, they secured $1 million from the Province to undertake an airport expansion project. And, a couple months ago, they formed a strategic partnership to develop the airport site with additional industrial and commercial components.
· SSMEDC Board member Donna Hilsinger was recently selected by the Ontario Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services to be a provincial appointee on the Sault Ste. Marie Police Services Board. Donna, who’s General Manager of Algoma’s Water Tower Inn & Suites, currently serves as volunteer secretary on the SSMEDC Board of Directors and volunteer President of the Algoma Fall Festival. She’s also the past Chair of the Tourism Sault Ste. Marie Management Committee. Donna was sworn in on the Sault Ste. Marie Police Services Board on December 10 and will attend the Board’s next regularly scheduled meeting on January 28. A longtime community leader and volunteer, she was the recipient of the Paul Dalseg Award from the Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce last month.