Municipality of Sioux Lookout hosts developers, investors during familiarization tour
Jesse Bonello - Staff Writer
The Municipality of Sioux Lookout hosted 23 developers, investors, and contractors for a familiarization tour of the Sioux Lookout area on Sept. 26 and 27.
“The goal and objective of these companies participating in the familiarization tour is to locate land, partner, build and operate commercial buildings, hotels, conference centre, housing, apartments, and 55 plus accommodations,” said Vicki Blanchard, Economic Development Manager.
The familiarization tour featured site visits in the Sioux Lookout area, such as Bigwood Lake, Sturgeon River Road South, Bernier Crescent, Boat Bay, Hillcrest, the Boreal Trails, and the Sioux Lookout Airport industrial area.
“We’re showing them a lot of vacant properties that the municipality owns now, and we’re also directing their attention to some of the properties that is crowned owned and there’s a possibility of development in those areas as well because we do have a significant amount of crown land within the municipality that we’re currently working on getting or having investment take over those lands for development,” said Michelle Larose, Chief Administrative Officer.
“We need hotel development, we need housing, and we also need commercial space because we’re running out of commercial space for businesses that want to relocate to Sioux Lookout or expand their businesses within the municipality,” she said.
The Municipality of Sioux Lookout shared it was exciting to see investors at the table, who provided positive feedback following the tour.
“It’s been many years that we’ve had issues with trying to find accommodations and housing in the municipality, and council has always worked on that. It’s nice to see that things are finally coming to fruition through the hard work of our Economic Development department and also our Development Services department and council, so those initiatives that they have taken on are now finally coming to fruition. To see the investors at the table, which is not an easy task to do, is great to see. It’s great to see the people out today, and hopefully it will foster more economic development for what we need in the community… The investors are at the table, so they’re coming and you don’t see that very often. We’ve created quite a buzz with them, and for them to come to Sioux Lookout shows their commitment to wanting to do projects in our community and work with us as partners,” said Larose.
“It was fantastic because I can tell you everybody thanked us over and over again. They said it was very informative. The opportunities were overwhelming, you would never know that such a small community had so much to offer. For outsiders to come in and participate like that, it was good. A lot of these organizations and companies have been here a few times so for them to come again, and spend two days out of their very busy schedules, speaks volumes for the community… It’s not normally like this, where you bring everybody together, but it worked. They’re willing to work together to make something happen, and that’s the important thing,” said Blanchard.
Blanchard said two property purchases have been made, and other areas throughout the tour created excitement and interest.
“Everyone really was excited when they saw Boat Bay, the area, and the opportunities there. There was some discussion on that. We also know that Hillcrest and Sturgeon are in the process of finalizing their purchases, so two properties have been sold. We’re pretty much down to no commercial availability inside, so Bigwood and the airport area offered some opportunities for expansion… The company that bought Sturgeon was here, and their offer has now been accepted by council and, with Hillcrest, we’re just waiting for the site plan to finalize that… They anticipate that they want to break ground in the summer or spring of next year, so that’s Hillcrest and Sturgeon. Also, the two properties next to Tim Hortons are sold, so we anticipate something there,” she said.
“My job now is to continue to follow up and make sure the process of getting permits and moving forward is seamless. The planning department was very much involved in yesterday’s event, so now it’s just a matter of how can we help make sure they come to fruition. We’re also offering to do whatever we can do from a funding perspective. If there’s dollars that we can offset the cost of the development, then we will be seeking that as well once they come out with their site plans,” she added.