Written by Kim Lunman
posted on February 13, 2009 15:11
A proposed anchor tourism attraction for the Thousand Islands is a huge step closer to opening its doors on Brockville’s waterfront.
Canada's federal and Ontario governments announced Friday, February 13, they will pay $11.4 million to fund two-thirds of the construction cost for the $18-million Maritime Discovery Centre (MDC).
Canada's federal and Ontario governments announced on Friday, February 13th they will pay $11.4 million to fund two-thirds of the construction cost of an $18 million Discovery Center in Brockville, focused on the Thousand Islands region of the St. Lawrence River.
The MDC is a proposed 26,000-square-foot Discovery Centre featuring exhibits focusing on the Thousand Islands and the St. Lawrence River. It is to be built as part of the Fuller Group's Tall Ships Landing, a $60 million condominium project by Ottawa developer Simon Fuller which also includes a waterfront restaurant, a boutique hotel and a marina for residents and visitors.
“It’s a vote of confidence,” said Fuller in an interview after the announcement was made public Friday. “We’ve got the momentum and the wind is at our back.” “We now have a federal/provincial partner and a vision and it’s so timely. The timing is just perfect.”
"The grant approval comes as the city of Brockville is embarking on its official plan and waterfront study," he said.
“We’re trying to build a catalyst that will network with existing attractions that together will form an anchor attraction for the Thousand Islands region,” said Fuller.
Fuller hopes the MDC will be part of a Thousand Islands tourism campus highlighting other sites within the region. "It is hoped the project will break ground by the spring of next year with an opening expected in 2012," he said.
“I think it’s great for the City of Brockville and the region at-large,” said the MDC’s executive-director David Leverton.
“The announcement is a great announcement but it’s only a first step.” “We’re trying to ensure there’s a lot of ‘wow factor’ and it will become a major attraction for the Thousand Islands.” Leverton, most recently the senior vice-president and chief operating officer of the TELUS World of Science in Edmonton, Alberta, was recently hired as the MDC's executive director. He has worked in science centres across Canada and in New Zealand.
“This is really an outstanding opportunity for this region,” said Thousand Islands photographer and author Ian Coristine, also a member of the MDC's board. "Today's Build Canada Fund announcement from the federal and provincial governments is a ringing endorsement of a wonderfully progressive vision the City of Brockville and Simon Fuller have shared to create a Discovery Center within the region. It will be very special for all Thousand Islanders as the primary focus will be on our Islands and River."
The city and Fuller have each committed $1.5 million to the project with the remaining $3 million coming from fundraising, corporate funding and in-kind contributions.
The 18-storey development includes the Discovery Centre, hotel suites and spa and 82 condominiums to be built on the Broad Street harborfront site.
The MDC will focus on the Thousand Islands region and feature frequently changing experiential exhibits designed to involve, educate and entertain using river heritage, nautical life, wildlife, shipwrecks, pirates and stories from its gilded age. There are also plans to collaborate with universities such as Queens on river related subjects.
Along with new changes to how the condos are being marketed, Fuller said the MDC funding announcement could spark more sales. So far, 20 “cottage-iniums” ranging from $300,000 to $1 million have been sold.
The intent is that this project will be one that all Thousand Islanders will enjoy and be proud to call their own.
By Kim Lunman KimLunman@ThousandIslandsLife.com
Kim Lunman is an award-winning Canadian journalist whose work has appeared in The Globe and Mail, The National Post, Reader's Digest, The Calgary Herald and other newspapers. A team member of TI Life, Kim wrote our November 2008 article: Brockville's Waterfront introducing this important River project.