Over the past six years, the municipality of Moonbeam has been slowly expanding tourism development along its local lake with upgrades to campsites and services.
This year will be no different.
Nearly $1 million will be spent at Remi Lake to improve roadwork, add three boat launches, rebuild a lookout, and construct a new 120-by-70 foot dome on its shores for the upcoming July 1 festivities.
The new dome, with a 30-by-50 foot stage, is earmarked for live performances and will be a gathering place for the community.
Moonbeam received $427,000 from the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation and $325,000 from FedNor for the project. The municipality chipped in $250,000.
The northeastern Ontario community of 1,100 is located on Highway 11, 21 kilometres east of Kapuskasing.
“What's happened here is we've slowly been going into expansion mode,” said Gilbert Peters, a Moonbeam councillor. “But we're being very cautious on how we expand, because we don't want it to get too far ahead of ourselves and become a financial burden.
“We're doing it a a slow pace, and we're going to do it without getting into debt.”
He estimates that the entire expansion phase of Remi Lake should take about 20 years.
The lake features five major campsites (Twin Lakes, Holiday Park, Ouelletts Campground, Park Brunelle and Rene Provincial Park) with capacity for more than 650 campers and trailers.
“The final goal is to have our campgrounds (operating) virtually full all summer, instead of just several weekends,” he said.
“In the last year, when it's been very warm, every weekend our campgrounds have been overflowing (with visitors), but during the week it goes down.”
Last summer, the area was visited by more than 37,000 campers.
“Just a few years ago, there was virtually none of this,” said Peters. “It's slowly starting to grow.”
Remi Lake is also home to more than 500 upscale cottages.
“What's happened over the years is people with the money from down south came up here and bought lots when they were cheap, and built summer homes,” he said. “It makes it now unaffordable for others to come in and buy it, so they've been starting using the campgrounds.”
Because of the high price of cottages, more locals have bought trailers and placed them in the campgrounds as a more affordable solution.
Peters said that business has more than tripled since they first started expansion six years ago.
“The other goal we'd like to have is a hotel or motel in our municipality,” added Peters, “on the corner of Highway 11 or Highway 581,” or on Remi Lake itself.
Peters said that potential development remains in the early talking stages with local businessmen.