RRFDC receives funding for new big tent canopy and storage

By Ken Kellar
Staff writer

MPP Greg Rickford is also planning to bring NOHFC board to town this summer to see the results of several of their investments

Residents of the Rainy River district will be seeing the direct impact of the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation (NOHFC) this summer, both through the decisions it makes and those very same decision makers.

Kenora-Rainy River MPP Greg Rickford was in town on Tuesday to announce a pair of projects being funded through the corporation, on which he sits as the board chair. The first project Rickford announced was nearly $500,000 to aid in the revitalization of the Legion Park and the addition of a splash pad to the area. The second announcement, made in the board office of the Rainy River Future Development Corporation (RRFDC), will reach a bit further than the bounds of the municipality, and unlike the splash pad, will keep those using from getting wet at all.

“[The NOHFC] is going to be a partner here with you folks to invest $116-thousand dollars through the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund for the Development Corporation to purchase a new canopy for its event tent,” Rickford announced.

The events tent is well known throughout the district, having held off inclement weather and strong sunshine to provide a place of shade and fun for countless different organizations and events, including the Rainy River Walleye Tournament. With the current tent showing some wear and tear from years of service, the NOHFC’s contribution will keep the tent doing what it is meant to do for years to come.

“I know historically there have been a lot of events out there and the tent is used for the Bass Championship and the Emo Canada Day celebrations, so it’s a real important asset, and some of the funds will be used to build a storage shed for the tent and other equipment,” Rickford continued.

“The good news is that it’s not much of a touch for you folks. At 75 percent of the cost of the total project… we’ve got your backs.”

Rickford noted that the NOHFC has changed at his hands in order to better provide funding to smaller municipalities who may not have the funds at hand for investments into recreational facilities like the splash pad, parks and events tent. The new NOHFC program thus allows for up to 90 percent funding coverage depending on the size of the municipality, ensuring that more things get done for the people in small town Ontario to enjoy.

“This is sort of the new look Northern Ontario Heritage Fund, and when I renovated it a few years ago we had smaller towns and townships in mind,” he said.

“We know there’s a limited tax base to draw from, and we just think the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund being able to titrate up into as high as 90 percent of the cost recovery, especially for some of the smaller townships and Indigenous communities, is a fair deal for towns like Fort Frances.”

RRFDC president Gord Armstrong thanked the minister for his support in helping to keep vibrant community events alive in the district through their funding of a new tent canopy.

“On behalf of the Board of Directors of the Rainy River Future Development Corporation, I would like to thank the NOHFC for its support of community events in the district,” Armstrong said. 

MPP Greg Rickford, second from right, is was joined by members of the Rainy River Future Development Corporation, to announce $116,000 to replace the canopy of the region’s big tent, which is used annually for the Canadian Bass Championship. A new storage shed will also be purchased. – Ken Kellar photo

“These events bring much needed tourism dollars to the community and stimulate local investment. Our new tent and storage shed will go a long way in allowing these events to put on a professional face.”

Rickford said that the aim of the NOHFC is to indeed help to cover the bases municipalities might need for recreation and culture – or perhaps put more accurately, heritage – pointing out that there are other streams of funding available for critical infrastructure upgrades like roads and sewer lines.

In order to better show off the district and the impact the NOHFC is making in the region, Rickford said he will be bringing the board to the region this summer, holding a meeting and taking board members on a tour of the different municipalities that make up the Rainy River District.

“The Northern Ontario Heritage Fund moves around the entire span of northern Ontario and once a business quarter we choose a destination, and I just felt like it would be important to see Fort Frances,” Rickford said.

“It’s a beautiful town and despite its hardships over the past decade or so, there’s a lot of great people here and a lot of great assets, and we’ve made some announcements, including today, where the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund has worked very well for up to 75 percent of the costs associated with a number of different projects. So I made the decision early this year to pitch to the board that Fort Frances would be a great place to go see; a town in recovery with a lot of hope and a great future, and showcase some of the projects we’re working on and try to understand some of the opportunities moving forward.”