Local MP Terry Sheehan announced the FedNor’s investment of $438,000 in the Canadian Bushplane and Heritage Centre on Wednesday afternoon.
This investment is part of a $1.175 million project to renovate the museum. This comes after a two-and-a-half year funding application process.
“It was quite an involved (process), said museum curator Todd Fleet. “But we got through it. Persistence is key.”
The funding will be used to support the modernization of the facility by improving exhibition space, introducing new nature and insect exhibits, and renovating public areas, such as the gift shop, washrooms, and front lobby, to improve visitor experience and increase attendance.
Sheehan says he thinks this investment in the Bushplane Museum is an important way to promote tourism in the Sault.
“The Bushplane Museum is an amazing, unique, one-of-it’s-kind in Canada – the Bushplane Museum is just one-of-it’s-kind. People are amazed by it when they come here – they come again, they’re telling their friends – and this is something that is really helping on our whole tourism experience here in Sault Ste. Marie and Northern Ontario,” he said. “I think it’s just great. I think this money is going to help them grow exponentially, and it’s gonna create jobs, and it’s gonna create a lot of opportunities for people working in the tourism industry, and a lot of opportunities for our youth.”
Fleet said he thinks this project is important as it allows the museum to continue to grow and develop.
“For me as curator, it’s an opportunity to keep developing and expanding our collection, to do research on our archive and get that information out so we can refresh this to bring back local visitors again and again so they see something new every time,” he said. “There’s also an opportunity to address some issues in here for conservation of our collection as well. Currently our event space is in the middle of our exhibits and we have to move exhibits around, which causes wear-and-tear. In the new plan, the exhibits will be located adjacent to the collection, so there’s less wear-and-tear, you don’t have to move aircraft around, that kind of stuff.”
Additional funding came from the following sources:
- $25,000 – Tourism Sault Ste. Marie
- $100,000 – Sault Ste. Marie Economic Development Corporation
- $507,600 – Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation
The remainder was raised by the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre itself.
Fleet said once the museum is renovated, they hope to take the money they make through visits and reinvest it back into the building.
“There’s a longer-term plan in play. First we need to focus on things that would improve our product and generate revenue so we can get closer to our sustainability goal so it’s not so life and death every year,” he said. “And then we can figure out the next stages – our infrastructure is aging. What efficiencies and what can we do to keep that for the next 20+ years? We’ve gotta make some money, and then we have to reinvest it in back into the building.”
He said the project should be completed by the end of May 2019, just before tourism season is set to start.