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Quality Inn - Sudbury
Paul Lefebvre - MP for Sudbury
Sunday, Jan. 20, 2019
Northern Water Sports Centre to welcome all
by Randy Pascal

With a target completion date of mid-summer of 2015, the Northern Water Sports Centre (NWSC) will become a reality, bringing to life the dreams of countless volunteers who have worked on the project, dating back more than a decade or so now.

In the meantime, however, it's business as usual for the three water-based organizations leading the charge to a new venue. The Sudbury Canoe Club, Sudbury Rowing Club and Sudbury Dragon Boat Festival will all continue to operate from the facility at the foot of Elizabeth Street, on the shores of Ramsey Lake until the move is complete.

Still, a brief walk-through the new building, nestled between the Sudbury Yacht Club and the municipal boat launch, provides ample evidence of exactly why the board of the NWSC are having trouble hiding their excitement with their pending relocation.

"Every few decades or so, things need to expand," noted NWSC chair Thomas Merritt, on a site visit hosted earlier this month. "That existing corner of the park (Bell Park) is really tight."

"There was a lot of back and forth about where this was going to be." As plans started to come together, so too did the financial support that would be critical to this type of venture.

Xstrada, FedNor and the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund committed $1 million each, while the City of Greater Sudbury donated another $500,000 and the $2-million parcel of land.

That willingness to work together has extended through from a practical end, as well, with the groups that will be sharing the facility, including the City itself. "We're already working together in ways that we have never worked together before," noted Merritt.

"That's part of the success of this project, getting all of these partners to work together, because at the end of the day, we have shared goals. How do we get more people active, out on the water, having a good time, enjoying one of the best parts of living in Northern Ontario."

Replacing a venue that has been around for many more years than most would care to remember carries with it the reality of changing priorities. "We are looking at a three percent grade from the lake, so that it's wheelchair accessible," noted NWSC board member Bob Humphries, the unofficial "construction consultant" of the group.

"The whole project revolves around accessibility." In addition, where the existing club does not provide for any kind of comfort level for parents, supporters and fans of water sport, the new NWSC features both an upstairs lounge area, which can accomodate receptions of one hundred or so, as well as a terrace blessed with a spectacular view of the lake.

"You want a space that welcomes everybody in," said Merritt. "With a space like this, even if you're doing things like trying to promote camaraderie in a club, you can come in here, because it works for everyone."

In fact, while schedules will have to obviously be co-ordinated, the facility will be available, to some extent, for public rental, most notably during the off-season months.

"What we've tried to do is to put things together that will help each of the partners do what we do better, but also to integrate better into the community," explained Merritt.

"We want many different people involved, many different viewpoints. We want this entire facility to be successful in a way that we could not have been where we were located."

"This facility would not have been constructed if we were approaching this from a "what's best for the rowing club?", "what's best for the canoe club?" perspective," summarized Merritt.

With work progressing nicely in the main building, the adjacent boat storage center will become an increasing priority, with the NWSC looking to be opening its doors to the public and members some time in July.

Further information on the project and new venue can be can be obtained by visiting the NWSC website at "www.nwsc.ca"

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