Feds offering millions to assist area tourism projects

Article content

Ottawa is offering individual grants of up to $100,000 to fully fund private and public projects aimed at helping businesses and groups in the tourism and hospitality sectors recover from an economically punishing pandemic.

Advertisement 2

Article content

But grant-seeking hopefuls will have to think and act fast.

Although announced Wednesday, the tourism relief support program application window doesn’t open until April 12 but then it shuts already on May 15. Approved applicants will likely be notified by mid-June and then have only until the end of 2022 to complete their projects .

“This is being done at lightning speed,” said Gordon Orr, CEO of Tourism Windsor Essex Pelee Island. He said his organization will be getting the word out to encourage as many local stakeholders as possible to put in applications for the free funds.

Projects and criteria run the gamut, from accessibility projects like washroom and trail improvements, to sustainability projects like solar roofs and EV charging stations, to projects to extend the tourism season, like winterization of cabins and weather coverings for stages and patios. Grants can be sought for such undertakings as webpage development or public art installations, and groups like business improvement areas can apply for grants for signage or to provide stronger wifi reception in public spaces to help draw visitors.

advertisement 3

Article content

“Tourism and hospitality was hit first and hit hardest, and it will take the longest to recover — this funding envelope is another lift-up to the industry,” said Orr.

Hon. Helena Jaczek is seen in this 2017 file photo.
Hon. Helena Jaczek is seen in this 2017 file photo. Photo by Nick Brancaccio /Windsor Star

Helena Jaczek, minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario, announced $68.5 million to be invested this year through the Tourism Relief Fund, Indigenous Tourism Ontario and 11 “regional tourism organizations” serving southern Ontario.

Joanne Wolnik, executive director of the Southwest Ontario Tourism Corp., said her region — an area south and west of Niagara Falls, Hamilton and Guelph and including Windsor, London, Sarnia and Woodstock — is getting $7 million, with about $6 million going directly to businesses and eligible applicants.

advertisement 4

Article content

The available grants are in the $20,000 to $100,000 range. Non-profits, municipalities and Indigenous proponents can get 100 per cent of their project costs covered, while incorporated businesses are eligible for grants covering 50 per cent of their project costs.

Wolnik acknowledges “it’s a high amount of funds in a short period,” but the aim of the tight time frames is to push funds out fast to provide a quick boost to the hospitality and tourism sector. “We want this to really grow tourism,” she said.

While hotel and restaurant chains and retailers are ineligible, she said the criteria are sufficiently flexible that exceptions can be considered, for example, for a retailer offering an attraction or product that serves as a draw for visitors to the region.

advertisement 5

Article content

With such reopening measures as the April 1 end to COVID-19 testing requirements at the border, Orr said “the industry is starting to reopen. This is another step forward in our recovery.”

To find out more about eligibility and the application process, visit the federal Tourism Relief Fund in southern Ontario website on-line. Wolnik said more details will be included in the coming days and the application period opens April 12. She said efforts were made to simplify the process and that appointments can be booked for additional assistance.

[email protected]



Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion and encourage all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments may take up to an hour for moderation before appearing on the site. We ask you to keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications—you will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, there is an update to a comment thread you follow or if a user follows comments. Visit our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your e-mail settings.

Leave a Comment