The Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency (CanNor) announced in a news release Friday that $377,587 would go towards the relocation and renovation of the Yellowknife Visitor’s Centre to the Centre Square Mall.

The funding will support design and engineering fees for the two-year project to relocate it from its current location in the basement of City Hall and renovate it in the mall.

CanNor’s involvement in the Visitor’s Centre proposal was first reported by NNSL Media after Mayor Rebecca Alty and city councillors discussed the project in a meeting at the end of March.

Rebuilding Northern tourism

Recognizing the impact that Covid-19 has had on Northern tourism, the federal government seeks to have the territories ready to welcome back Canadian and international tourists once conditions are ready, CanNor said.

NWT MP Michael McLeod, in announcing the funding on behalf of Mélanie Joly, minister of economic development and official languages and minister responsible for CanNor, said the federal government wants to rebuild the Northern tourism industry along with regional economies.

“I am encouraged and inspired by the industry’s adaptability, creativity and resilience,” he said. “Today’s investment from CanNor to enhance visitor infrastructure supports the tourism sector in Yellowknife and across NWT. By working together, our communities will come out stronger.”

Promoting NWT tourism

Industry, Tourism and Investment (ITI) Minister Caroline Wawzonek said the tourism industry is an important part of the territorial economy but one that has been hit hard by the pandemic.

“Visitor information centres promote local, Indigenous and regional tourism operators and their products and are valuable hubs of information. With many visitors to the NWT beginning their visit in Yellowknife, this is an opportunity to provide information about not only the local region’s operators and activities but also the wealth of incredible tourism opportunities across our beautiful territory,” she said.

Yellowknife Mayor Rebecca Alty said the Visitor centre relocation bid comes at an opportune time to invest in and revitalize the downtore core.

“The new, multi-functional space will welcome tourists back to the region, showcase local non-commercial artwork, and act as an accessible, community hub for businesses and the public. We are grateful for this opportunity, supported by our partners, CanNor and the GNWT.”

The investment from CanNor comes in addition to $161,000 from the GNWT and $125,000 from the city.

$286,000 from City, GNWT

In a December 2020 council meeting, the City said it would apply for $400,000 in funding from CanNor for the Visitor Centre project and $161,000 for operations and maintenance funds from ITI.

City staff also recommended $125,000 be allocated from council’s downtown improvement reserve for the project.

Yellowknife’s Northern Frontier Visitors Centre was located beside Frame Lake and operated from the 1990s until 2017, when it was closed due to problems with the building’s structure.

The shuttered building was demolished in April 2020.

Blair McBride

Blair McBride covers the Legislative Assembly, business and education. Before coming to Yellowknife he worked as a journalist in British Columbia, Thailand and Ontario. He studied journalism at Western...

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