Government of Canada investment of over $13 million supports tourism recovery in Kitchener-Waterloo, Guelph, Stratford and surrounding regions

News release

More than 110 projects supported to enhance recreational facilities, parks and trails to attract visitors to region

May 24, 2023 – Guelph, Ontario

In the Kitchener-Waterloo, Guelph, Stratford and surrounding regions, tourism attractions and destinations like arts and culture, quaint main streets and outdoor recreation play a vital role in the region's economy and cultural identity, promoting the unique heritage and natural beauty of the region. The Government of Canada understands the importance of the tourism sector and is committed to supporting communities as they build towards a strong future from coast to coast to coast.

During Economic Development Week, we are highlighting the important investments that have been made across Ontario to support the tourism industry. Between 2022 and 2023, the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) delivered nearly $140 million through the Tourism Relief Fund (TRF) to help tourism-oriented businesses and organizations across southern Ontario recover from the impacts of the pandemic and safely welcome back visitors.

As part of this investment, more than $13 million was delivered to 114 tourism businesses and organizations in Kitchener-Waterloo, Guelph, Stratford and surrounding regions, providing memorable experiences for visitors and positioning the region for success.

For example, the Guelph Black Heritage Society received $45,000 to develop and produce accessible educational resources and promote its Heritage Hall as a culturally and historically significant, inclusive and dynamic tourist destination. As part of this project, the Guelph Black Heritage Society developed educational videos, interactive guides and programming and events that share and celebrate untold stories of Guelph-Wellington's Black community.

TRF support also made a difference in St Jacobs, where the Town of Woolwich and St. Jacobs Business Improvement Area received more than $100,000 to add seasonal outdoor recreational facilities in St. Jacobs Village, to enhance the experience for visitors during the winter months.

Also with this Government of Canada support, Regional Tourism Organization 4 Inc. (RTO 4) provided non-repayable contributions of up to $100,000 to tourism businesses and organizations in the region.

This included support for Eat Local Huron, which received $70,000 through RTO 4 to develop new experiences highlighting agritourism in Huron County. With this support, Eat Local Huron successfully hosted five Farm Crawls at 15 locations around Huron County, where guests had the opportunity to meet with local food producers, learn about agricultural practices and enjoy locally-produced foods.

These investments have been crucial in helping local businesses and organizations welcome more visitors and build stronger, more vibrant communities.


"With an investment of nearly $140 million for the Ontario tourism sector, our government has been making smart investments that put people first and grow local economies that work for everyone. A new Federal Tourism Growth Strategy will keep this industry strong and support the vitality of communities small and large across the country."
– The Honourable Filomena Tassi, Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario

"It's time for Canada's tourism sector to push past reviving all the way to thriving. Our government's investments in tourism over the last three years focused on sustaining and rebuilding the tourism ecosystem, promoting what we have and designing for the future. A fully recovered and robust tourism sector is key to our government's ongoing work to build an economy that works for everyone. Together, we can make sure that Canada's tourism sector is something that visitors and Canadians alike will celebrate and enjoy for generations to come."
– The Honourable Randy Boissonnault, Minister of Tourism and Associate Minister of Finance

"Guelph, Kitchener-Waterloo, Stratford and surrounding region is a dynamic hub for artistic and cultural celebrations with its vibrant main streets, recreational trails, world-renowned performing art theatres and music festivals. The Tourism Relief Fund supported 114 tourism businesses and organizations in our region to enhance attractions and events that will draw visitors from near and far this growing region and build stronger communities for years to come."
– Lloyd Longfield, Member of Parliament for Guelph

"There is an absence and erasure of Black history and heritage in Guelph, Wellington County and across the country. With the help of the Tourism Relief Fund investment, the Guelph Black Heritage Society has been able to change this narrative and create resources which amplify the voices and share the stories and triumphs of the local Black community."
– Denise Francis, President / Treasurer, Guelph Black Heritage Society

"The Township of Woolwich and St. Jacob's Business Improvement Area are grateful for the Tourism Relief Fund support provided through the Government of Canada and FedDev Ontario, allowing the partnership to add a winter-focused outdoor amenity to the Village of St. Jacobs for visitors and residents alike."
– Her Worship Sandy Shantz, Mayor of Woolwich Township

"The Farm Crawl project has helped to position Eat Local Huron as a connection between visitors to our County and the robust local food culture we are helping to build, maintain and highlight. We are so happy that with the generous support of RTO4 and FedDev Ontario, we were able to offer this program to our community. It was a hit!"
– Katrina McQuail, Board Secretary, Eat Local Huron

Quick facts

  • The Guelph Black Heritage Society was formed in 2011 to preserve the historical significance of the Guelph British Methodist Episcopal Church which was built by formerly enslaved Black individuals and their descendants who arrived in the area via the Underground Railroad. Today, the building serves as a community cultural and spiritual gathering space.

  • With a quaint village appearance, retail focus and Mennonite heritage, St. Jacobs is a popular tourism location in Waterloo Region. This includes St. Jacobs Farmers' Market which draws more than1 million visitors annually to the region.

  • Eat Local Huron is a not-for-profit online farmers' market dedicated to bringing locally sourced food to the doorsteps of Huron County residents. In addition to food delivery, Eat Local Huron organizes community and tourism events such as Farm Crawl tours.

  • FedDev Ontario delivered nearly $140 million of the Tourism Relief Fund across southern Ontario, including $76.5 million in support for southern Ontario's 11 Regional Tourism Organizations and Indigenous Tourism Ontario (ITO). As part of this investment, ITO received $3.5 million and has delivered $2 million to support 23 Indigenous-led tourism projects across southern Ontario and fostered connections between Indigenous tourism operators and Regional Tourism Organizations (RTOs) in the region.

  • In Budget 2023, the Government of Canada proposed a $108-million investment over three years as part of a Federal Tourism Growth Strategy to support growth, investment and stability in Canada's tourism sectorSubject to parliamentary approval, this support, to be delivered by Canada's regional development agencies including FedDev Ontario, will help ensure that our tourism industry can continue to be a driver of good jobs and vibrant communities across Canada.

  • Since 2015, the Government of Canada, through FedDev Ontario, has invested over $330 million in more than 320 projects across Wellington, Waterloo, Perth, and Huron census divisions, estimated to create over 13,000 jobs and maintain over 33,000 jobs.

Associated links


Edward Hutchinson
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario

Media Relations
FedDev Ontario

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