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Province to spend $5 million on train station at former St. Marys Paper site

Project will include outdoor event centre, exhibit centre and micro-brewery at former St. Marys Paper site
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The province has a made $5 million investment in the construction of a new Agawa Canyon Tour Train station, exhibit centre, micro-brewery and outdoor event centre. The announcement was made at The Machine Shop Friday morning. Left to right: Sault Ste. Marie Economic Development Executive Director Dan Hollingsworth, Sault Ste. Marie MPP Ross Romano and SIS Group President Tony Porco. James Hopkin/SooToday

The provincial government is putting up $5 million for the construction of a new train station for the Agawa Canyon Tour Station and other tourist attractions at the former site of St. Marys Paper.

Sault Ste. Marie MPP Ross Romano was joined by Sault Ste. Marie Economic Development Executive Director Dan Hollingsworth and SIS Group President Tony Porco at The Machine Shop Friday morning to make the announcement.

“Now we’re really focusing on this area, that through private industry has really grown and become so important and vital to our city, and something very critical to our tourism sector,” Romano said to the crowd during the announcement.

The project - which will be a part of SIS Group’s restructuring of the area surrounding The Machine Shop - includes the construction of a new station for the tour train, an exhibit centre-slash-gallery, a micro-brewery and an outdoor event centre.

A press release from the Ontario government indicates that eight new jobs as a result of the funding, which was accessed through the Northern Ontario Heritage Funding Corporation.

“This helps to further anchor the Agawa Canyon Tour Train in the community,” Hollingsworth told SooToday following the announcement. “That’s one of the main things that this was built around, the destination attraction - obviously improving the whole visitor experience, providing more niche tourism services to help when visitors are in our community.”

“This site will really help build out that landing point and launch point for some of those activities and services, so we’re really excited about it.”

Hollingsworth says that the project will take about three years to complete.

“I think you’ll see some activity on the site this summer,” he said. “It’s a bit of a staged project over the next three years, so I would think that the citizens of Sault Ste. Marie will see some of the changes immediately this year with some of the plans that the SIS Group does have.”

Porco, who acquired the current site of The Machine Shop in 2015, is eager to begin work on the former site of St. Marys Paper - a company that employed him until he was laid off during a shutdown of the paper mill back in 1992.

“We just want to move on now, and hopefully we get this started as soon as we can - the sooner the better,” Porco said.