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Proposal could more than quadruple size of Hiawatha recreation centre

Currently seating 64, Kinsmen Centre would be expanded to handle 300 participants

The Kinsmen Centre at Hiawatha Highlands could become a major outdoor recreation hub under a proposal to be presented Monday to City Council.

Councillors will be asked to earmark $60,000 in FutureSSM cash for a feasibility study and initial design concept.

The Kinsman Centre is currently comprised of 1,340 square feet and seats about 64 people.

The city's been working with Soo Finnish Nordic Ski Club, Algoma University's nordic ski team, Sault Cycling Club and other groups to develop a facility large enough to handle 300 participants in provincial and national competitions.

"Kinsmen Park and Hiawatha Highlands are a significant source of community pride," says Travis Anderson, the city's director of tourism and community development.

"A short 10-minute drive from downtown Sault Ste. Marie...the area has been a premier destination for both local residents and travellers looking to escape to the natural beauty of the Hiawatha Highlands for decades, and features prominently in new resident attraction and tourism marketing."

"Looking towards the future, Kinsmen Park and surrounding area have a significant role to play in terms of increasing the quality of life of local residents, as well as acting as one of our flagship destinations for out-of-town travellers," Anderson says in a report to Mayor Provenzano and City Council.

"A limitation to these plans is the fact that the current Kinsmen Centre is...not nearly large enough to support a provincial- or national-calibre event. Nor is the facility large enough to support local youth recreation activities, such as the Jackrabbit ski program, which is constrained to 170 children due to the size of the facility."

"The proposed four-season facility located in Kinsmen Park (780 Landslide Road), would complement the existing Kinsmen Centre and would serve as a multi-use facility that is accessible to the community. The new facility would be owned the Kinsmen Club of Sault Ste. Marie, and jointly operated with Soo Finnish Nordic Ski Club and other community partners," Anderson said.

"The facility would be capable of hosting a range of events and activities, from local elementary and secondary school sporting events and outdoor education to large-scale sporting events, including provincial- and national-level cross country ski, trail-running and mountain bike events."

FutureSSM wants to see usage of the Kinsman Centre expanded with:

  • updated community amenities
  • new recreation opportunities
  • further soft adventure development
  • eco-tourism
  • youth engagement
  • in-class training sessions
  • professional training camps

Next week's City Council meeting will be teleconferenced to comply with social distancing and participant restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic emergency.

It will be livestreamed on SooToday starting at 4:30 p.m. Monday.

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David Helwig

About the Author: David Helwig

David Helwig's journalism career spans seven decades beginning in the 1960s. His work has been recognized with national and international awards.
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