Government of Canada supports freshwater science and ecotourism opportunities in Northwestern Ontario

News release

FedNor invests to establish a world-class science and tourism centre in the Kenora district

April 8, 2021 – Kenora, ON – Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario – FedNor

Canada's tourism sector is an essential contributor to the Canadian economy but one of the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. During these challenging times, the Government of Canada is stepping up efforts to ensure municipalities, businesses, organizations and Indigenous communities are ready, willing and able to kick-start an industry that is eager to come roaring back.

Terry Sheehan, Parliamentary Secretary to the Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages and Minister responsible for FedNor, today announced a FedNor investment of $180,000 to establish a unique knowledge-based ecotourism centre in the Kenora district.

Provided through FedNor’s Northern Ontario Development Program, this strategic investment will help the world-renowned International Institute for Sustainable Development – Experimental Lakes Area Inc. (IISD-ELA) establish the Centre for Climate and Lake Learning. Specifically, the funding will be used to hire architects and engineers to prepare blueprints, cost estimates and a work plan so construction can begin.

Establishing this state-of-the-art facility will provide a boost for local tourism by attracting more visitors to the area and encouraging them to extend their stay, leading to increased spending at hotels, restaurants and local shops. The Centre’s design will boast principles of clean energy and green technology, helping to reduce the IISD-ELA’s diesel footprint, and reflect Indigenous teachings, culture and values. The building will be a model of leading-edge environmental innovation and will be IISD-ELA’s central welcoming facility for its diverse community of researchers, students and visitors from around the world.


“Canadian tourism operators and those working within the industry have demonstrated incredible resilience over the past year. Investments in capacity building projects, like the one announced today, help us look beyond the pandemic to a future when tourists once again turn to Canada for travels and adventures. Our message is clear: We’ve been there for you with immediate measures and we are here for you now to ensure that our economy comes roaring back.”
- The Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages and Minister responsible for FedNor

“Today’s investment will help support freshwater science and research, promote clean-tech, and help grow Canada’s tourism sector by driving more international visitation to Northwestern Ontario. I’m proud that FedNor continues to accelerate economic recovery efforts for communities, businesses and industries across Northern Ontario so they can scale up quickly when our economy reopens.”
- Terry Sheehan, Member of Parliament for Sault Ste. Marie and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages and Minister responsible for FedNor

“IISD Experimental Lakes Area is a Canadian icon, protecting fresh water at home and around the world. This critical FedNor support is an investment in that stewardship—strengthening our freshwater research, education and public engagement, while also creating a unique tourism destination in Northwestern Ontario.”
- Richard Florizone, President-CEO, International Institute for Sustainable Development

“In a time of increasing population and climate changes, the ground-breaking research at IISD-ELA is more critical than ever. The Canada Centre for Climate and Lake Learning will be a hub for environmental education and outreach for Northwestern Ontario—allowing us to create a unique ecotourism experience, furthering our research and advancing our understanding of aquatic ecosystems, while welcoming and educating local communities on the health of fresh water.”
- Matthew McCandless, Senior Director, IISD Experimental Lakes Area

Quick facts

  • The funding announced today is provided through FedNor’s Northern Ontario Development Program, which supports projects that promote sustainable community economic development, diversification and business growth.

  • Ecotourism is one of the fastest growing sectors of the travel industry worldwide. It is defined as responsible travel to natural areas that conserve the environment, sustains the well-being of the local people, and involves interpretation and education.

  • IISD-ELA, located east of Kenora, is a natural laboratory comprised of 58 lakes and their watersheds

  • IISD-ELA is the only place in the world where scientists can conduct research and manipulate real lakes to build a more accurate and complete picture of the impact of human activity on freshwater lakes.

Associated links


Catherine Mounier-Desrochers
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages

Barclay Babcock
Communications Officer

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