Science North selects a Thunder Bay waterfront site for regional expansion

A Thunder Bay waterfront location is the “preferred” spot for a permanent home for Science North’s expansion into northwestern Ontario.

In a news release, the Sudbury-based science center announced that the Pool 6 site in the city’s harbor will be the location to build its 34,000-square-foot attraction.

The property is the former site of the Pool 6 grain elevator, which was demolished and the land repurposed as part of the Marina Park redevelopment years ago. The site also hosts Great Lakes cruise ships.

Science North said it has had a presence in the city since 2010, entertaining and educating close to 30,000 youth through camps and various outreach programs.

From a tourism point of view, the proposed attraction has the potential to greet more than 80,000 visitors annually, generate 5,000 overnight hotel stays, with annual visitors and operational spending projected at $6 million a year.

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Science North said the Northwest Expansion Project is in the schematic design phase, which involves engagement with community engagement, Indigenous communities, community organizations, and the City of Thunder Bay.

This phase of design is being funded by the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund, FedNor, Thunder Bay Community Economic Development Commission (CEDC) and the City of Kenora.

Officials with the City of Thunder Bay were said to have played a “key role” in financially supporting the project, providing staff to staging stakeholder workshops, and helping to find a site. With the site chosen, Science North and the city said they’ll work other partners on the next steps.

“We are thrilled to be moving forward with the schematic design phase of the Northwest Expansion and are grateful to have support from all three levels of government to do so,” said Science North CEO Ashley Larose in the release.

“The opportunities for Science North to grow in Thunder Bay and the region are well aligned with the city’s vision for a thriving and sustainable community. Choosing Waterfront’s Pool 6 as the desired location is an exciting milestone in our Northwest Expansion. This phase of the project will also see us mapping out design elements and determining what the experiences will be when you visit.”

In a statement, CEDC CEO Eric Zakrewski said they’ve been working on finding a suitable location for well over a year.

“We at the CEDC and Tourism Thunder Bay envision this project could be a catalyst for further major investments in development at Pool 6 associated with recent and planned cruise shipping activity and tourist attraction. Ultimately, these lands could form a new core in our community for science, technology, arts, culture and tourism, attracting thousands of year-round visitors and contributing millions to our local economy.”

Science North has established a project office on Cumberland Street in the city’s north end. Members of the public are encouraged to drop in and share thoughts on what they’d like to see with the new Science Centre.

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