Science NORTH Plans New Home on Waterfront

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Thunder Bay's downtown Waterfront District looking toward Pier Six where the Viking Octantis is docked
Thunder Bay's downtown Waterfront District looking toward Pier Six where the Viking Octantis is docked ©2022 NetNewsLedger

THUNDER BAY – LIVING – Science North announced today that Waterfront’s Pool 6 site would be the preferred location to build its new 34,000 sq. ft. science centre. With the potential to welcome over 80,000 visitors annually and generate 5,000 overnight stays in the city with a projected $6M in visitor spending and operations, the facility would provide year-round activities for residents of the city and tourists – while also hosting residents from surrounding Northern Ontario communities to enjoy science-based education and entertainment. 

Science North’s satellite base in Thunder Bay was established in 2010 and reaches close to 30,000 youth in Northwestern Ontario (NWO) through school outreach programs, public outreach events, First Nation outreach and camps on an annual basis. With NWO on the rise in economics and infrastructure, and a proven model to fill the gap in culture, recreational activities and education through entertainment, Science North believes it is one step closer to achieving its vision through the development of a permanent facility in the city. 

Science North’s Northwest Expansion Project is currently in its schematic design phase which largely focuses on community engagement, architectural and visitor experience design – that involves working closely with Indigenous communities, private sector partners, community organizations and the City of Thunder Bay to create champions and ensure the new attractions reflect the region and its heritage. Outputs of the schematic design phase include the development of detailed visitor experience, program plans, completed surveys, site plans, architectural schematic designs and the development of detailed operating plans for the attraction in Thunder Bay. This phase is being funded in part by the NOHFC, FedNor, the Thunder Bay CEDC and the City of Kenora. 

The City of Thunder Bay has played a key role in informing this project; in addition to supporting the project financially, key staff have participated in stakeholder workshops and provided feedback and guidance on the next steps. The city also played an essential role in assessing and recommending potential sites for the science centre. Following this work, the Waterfront’s Pool 6 site has been chosen as the preferred location for the build and Science North will continue to work with the city and other partners on the terms moving forward. 

Science North CEO Ashley Larose stated, “We are thrilled to be moving forward with the schematic design phase of the Northwest Expansion and are grateful to have support from all three levels of government to do so. The opportunities for Science North to grow in Thunder Bay and the region are well aligned with the city’s vision for a thriving and sustainable community. Choosing Waterfront’s Pool 6 as the desired location is an exciting milestone in our Northwest Expansion. This phase of the project will also see us mapping out design elements and determining what the experiences will be when you visit.” 

CEDC CEO Eric Zakrewski stated, “Science North’s campus expansion project forms a potentially pivotal project for Thunder Bay in association with their consideration of the Pool 6 waterfront lands as their preferred site for construction. The CEDC has been working with Science North for well over a year now in support of potentially locating their new campus on these former industrial lands adjacent to Prince Arthur’s Landing.  We at the CEDC and Tourism Thunder Bay envision this project could be a catalyst for further major investments in development at Pool 6 associated with recent and planned cruise shipping activity and tourist attraction. Ultimately, these lands could form a new core in our community for Science, Technology, Arts, Culture and Tourism, attracting thousands of year-round visitors and contributing millions to our local economy.  We are proud to support Science North in their expansion project and look forward to the progressive development of our waterfront for all to enjoy”. 

Science North has also established a project office at 12 Cumberland St. N, and the public is encouraged to visit the office to share their thoughts on what they would like to see in the new Science Centre.

An online survey is also in place to gather thoughts and ideas. Science North also programs “Downtown Science” on the corner of Red River and Cumberland every Friday with FREE weekly Science activities and demonstrations all summer long!