The City of Sault Ste. Marie has allocated $80,000 to install two waterfront dock systems designed for entry-level kayakers and canoeists.
"New for summer 2021, city staff have been in discussions with a kayak tour operator that will be establishing tours along the St. Marys River," says Travis Anderson, the city's director of tourism and community development.
The new docks will enable novice paddlers to "access their vessels while on the dock and then gently enter the water," Anderson says.
"These docks will increase positive visitor experience by providing an opportunity for novice boaters to experience our waterways in less intimidating manner."
"Furthermore, the docks will help to activate our waterways and provide further tourism opportunities in the core of the city, which will increase the likelihood of additional spending directly in the community."
The new docks and three other projects will be funded with $449,809 from the mandatory four per cent municipal accommodation tax on motel and hotel guests who stay 29 consecutive nights or less, as well as the city's share of cash from the Provincial Safe Restart Agreement.
At its most recent meeting, City Council also approved $153,307 for local cycling infrastructure aimed at tourists.
"The cycling infrastructure proposed for 2021 will build upon the Algoma trail network being funded by FedNor and the Economic Development Corp. and will reinforce our efforts to increase cycle tourism," Anderson said in a report to Mayor Provenzano and ward councillors.
"A connection to Kinsmen Park and Hiawatha Highland, from the Hub Trail at Third Line would allow visitors to bike from paid accommodations throughout the city to our mountain bike network."
"Connecting the mountain bike network to the Hub Trail has the ability to increase the length of stay of visitors in the community and will also improve the visitor experience."
"City staff have also entered into discussions with the Ontario Cycling Association regarding the potential of establishing Sault Ste. Marie as a regional training center for youth mountain biking."
"In order to establish the community as a training center recommendations have been made to develop a mountain bike skills park that would allow riders to practice their technical biking skills in a safe environment."
"The establishment of the skills park is proposed for Kinsmen Park, as a way to reinforce the trailhead of our new and existing trail network."
"To date staff have been working with the Kinsmen Club of Sault Ste. Marie and the Sault Cycling Club to advance this project through their fundraising," Anderson said.
The city has also allocated $188,217 for wayfinding signage directing tourists to key destinations including the waterfront, Hiawatha Highlands, the Canal District and the new Agawa Canyon Tour Train station, as well as local post-secondary institutions, community centres and ice rinks.
$35,000 will be spent on an engineering study aimed at supporting the cruise ship industry.
"Currently, there are a number of projects required at the marina to meet the growing demands," Anderson reports.
"These projects include assessing and removing the high points at the dock, installing a proper fender system and installing proper water service. However, prior to conducting the physical work an engineering study is required."
"Once the study is complete and a plan is in place, we will proceed, likely in 2021, with upgrades to the marina."
"The goal is to undertake work now that can better prepare the community for the eventual return of the cruise ship industry post COVID-19 restrictions. Major activities will be timed appropriately with the recovery of the cruise ship industry."