By KELLY LOUISEIZE
Municipalities throughout the Manitoulin Lacloche area are establishing key business opportunities to assist in the expansion of their economic development initiatives.
The Municipality of Gore Bay has hired a consulting firm to investigate the possibility of reorganizing the layout of the town’s marina with the intention of adding more slip spaces, since the volume of traffic has significantly increased in the past five years, Annette Clarke, administrative clerk says.
“This study is supposed to re-evaluate the marina and how to improve the services that we are currently providing,” Clarke says.
“Every year we get more and more requests for (slip space). We are at a point where we are running out of space for the seasonal dockage, so we do need to improve on that.”
Clarke says the waterfront is one of the busiest marinas on the North Channel. Revenues to the town from the marina were more than $109 million in the 2002 boating season. Total revenues from the municipal portion of local taxation were about $390,000 for the year 2002, according to their strategic business plan. That suggests the direct net revenues from the Gore Bay marina account for 22 per cent of the municipality portion of tax revenue.
This does not take into account the impact of tourism through stores, restaurants and other services.
The North Shore received approximately 10,000 boats in 2002. By the 2004 boating season this number is expected rise by an additional 400 boats. The projected figures imply more slips could provide more revenue for the municipality.
Another community on the Island is also looking to expand its marina and services. Meldrum Bay’s Dawson Citizen’s Improvement Association applied for SuperBuild funding to improve the existing marina.
“The application was in excess of $1 million to upgrade the marina, including a breakwall,” Dave Oates, past vice-president and now director of the association says.
“My understanding is that it is approved, but we do not have the official word that we are getting the funding yet,” Oates says.
A breakwall is a significant part of the bay’s marina, since the community faces the North Channel and winds and waves make it challenging for boaters to visit to area.
“Lafarge Quarry committed $1 million of stone for the breakwall,” Oates says.
“That is in the application. They are really helping out.”
Meldrum’s marina is the first port of call coming from Mich., United States. Historically the federal government treated the marina as the first point of entry into Canada and therefore employed a customs agent up to the mid-80s. Back then approximately 2,000 boats entered into the port every year. After years of use, the marina
requires upgrades on the amp service, Oates says. He also maintains establishments such as comfort stations, laundry facilities and a boardwalk would go a long way in attracting visitors to the area.
Approximately 45 boats are harboured at Meldrum Bay. Oates says if the application is approved the marina could provide slips for 75 plus boats. This could more than double the gross sales of $150,000 from the previous year to $500,000. More revenue means more jobs for the community. The town could easily see an extra three jobs from the marina itself, Oates adds. This is not including the impacts the town would receive from visitors to the community stores, restaurants and the like.
Approximately 90 per cent of the 850 boaters coming into the bay’s port are from the states. Oates would like to
see that figure increase, as he knows the potential for business is there, he says.