The Municipality of West Nipissing has witnessed a number of new developments and expansions over the past year, and the focus for the upcoming year will be to promote the community as a viable location for new business startups, says the municipal development officer for West Nipissing.
Among initiatives planned for 2002 is the establishment of a community development committee, whose responsibilities will include overseeing economic development issues and attracting new business, says Lynn Duhaime. Also in the works is a promotional campaign, which will include increased highway signage and a revamped Web site, to market the area in order to attract business, she adds.
Improvements to health care and seniors' housing contribute to the municipality's initiative to make West Nipissing a good place to live in order to attract new business, says Alan Korell, West Nipissing municipal engineer and planner.
"We're working on our infrastructure - spending a lot of money on water, sewers, storm sewers, highways and roads," says Korell.
A recent addition to the West Nipissing General Hospital has improved health care in the community, Duhaime says.
The $3-million project included the construction of a corridor between the hospital and the nearby Au Chateau Home for the Aged. Au Chateau has also expanded. Twenty-three non-profit lifetime-lease units - 19 apartments and four townhouses - were completed in the spring of 2001.
Water treatment facilities in Sturgeon Falls and Verner are to be upgraded in the coming year. The $2-million project will improve water quality, Korell adds.
As well, 911 service will be in operation throughout the municipality sometime in 2002, says Duhaime. It, too, "will make the community more attractive to potential new residents," she says. "People are looking for security," adds Korell, and this will help provide it.
The municipality's efforts seem to be paying off. In the year 2001, 45 new houses were built in West Nipissing.
"North Bay had 61 new houses out of a population of 55,000; we had 45 out of a population of 14,000," explains Duhaime. She cites the municipality's taxes - lower than in some other cities in northeastern Ontario - as part of the attraction for new home buyers.
The trend may continue once improvements to Highway 17 between North Bay and Sturgeon Falls are completed, she says. The highway upgrade may also increase the flow of tourists moving through the area, and West Nipissing is preparing to attract them with a proposed migratory bird interpretation centre.
"Bird watching is one of the major leisure activities of North Americans," says Marc Gagnon, co-ordinator of recreation services for the Municipality of West Nipissing.
Although the project is only in the very early stages of development, a feasibility study has been completed, and the project looks positive, says Gagnon.
Cache Bay, on Lake Nipissing near Sturgeon Falls, is a stop for many types of migrating waterfowl and other birds, Gagnon says. The first step in developing the Cache Bay Wetlands and Interpretive Centre would be the creation of a waterfront park with trails and a viewing tower, says Gagnon.
A new information centre has been developed on Highway 17 in Sturgeon Falls, which provides a one-stop shop for all tourists travelling through the area.
Also underway in West Nipissing is a $1.3-million addition to the municipal building in Sturgeon Falls. The addition is being built to house new staff and is expected to boost the economy by creating work for the construction industry, Duhaime says.
On the agricultural end, a $180,000 project at Le Coopérative régionale de Nipissing-Sudbury Ltd. in Verner has increased storage capacity for food crops.
The Municipality of West Nipissing, located between Sudbury and North Bay, was amalgamated in 1999 and includes: Cache Bay, Caldwell, Field, Lavigne, Verner, Springer and Sturgeon falls, and the unorganized townships of Badgerow, Bastedo, Beaucage, Bertram, Crerar, Dana, Falconer, Fedley, Fell, Grant, Gibbons, Hugel, Kirkpatrick, Latchford, Loudon, MacPherson, McWilliams, and a portion of Janes Township. Employment in the area