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Science North picks waterfront for Thunder Bay science centre

Science North has confirmed its preferred location for a proposed 34,000 square foot science centre in Thunder Bay as the Pool 6 lands at the waterfront.

THUNDER BAY – Science North has confirmed it’s seeking to locate a proposed Thunder Bay science centre at the Pool 6 site on the waterfront.

The decision sets the stage for the organization to work with the city on terms for use of the site, and could play a key role in the city’s push to expand waterfront development south from Prince Arthur’s Landing.

The project, which envisions a 34,000 square foot science centre, remains in the schematic design phase and has not yet secured funding or final approvals.

It has already attracted over $2 million in support from all three levels of government, however, along with enthusiasm from local leaders.

Thunder Bay’s CEDC recently provided $250,000 in support to advance the project, estimating a waterfront science centre could have a $6 million a year impact on the Thunder Bay economy through operations and visitor spending.

“Science North’s campus expansion project forms a potentially pivotal project for Thunder Bay,” CEDC head Eric Zakrewski said in a statement Friday. “We at the CEDC and Tourism Thunder Bay envision this project could be a catalyst for further major investments in development at Pool 6 associated with recent and planned cruise shipping activity and tourist attraction.”

Science North CEO Ashley Larose called the project a win-win for the city and the provincial agency.

“The opportunities for Science North to grow in Thunder Bay and the region are well aligned with the city's vision for a thriving and sustainable community,” she said. “Choosing waterfront’s Pool 6 as the desired location is an exciting milestone in our Northwest  Expansion.”

In a release, Science North shared estimates that the science centre in Thunder Bay could welcome over 80,000 visitors a year and generate 5,000 overnight stays in the city.

“The facility would provide year-round activities for residents of the city and tourists – while also hosting residents from surrounding Northern Ontario communities to enjoy science-based education and entertainment,” the organization stated.

Further work in the schematic design phase includes public consultations, visitor experience design, securing funding, and engaging firms to develop building plans.

A survey is currently available online to collect input from the public on the project.

Science North is developing the project alongside a potential 4,000-square-foot expansion of the Lake of the Woods Discovery Centre in Kenora

The organization is currently holding “Downtown Science” programming near its expansion project office, on the corner of Red River and Cumberland, every Friday with free science activities and demonstrations.

The Sudbury-based organization’s satellite base in Thunder Bay was established in 2010, and currently offers programming to thousands of children throughout the region through summer camps, school visits, and other programming.