The redevelopment of Kenora’s Harbourfront and Greenbelt will start with Husky the Muskie and McLeod Park next year, if everything goes as planned.

City councillors approved a $952,000 plus HST proposal for the Harbourfront redevelopment’s design work last month, submitted by KGS, HTFC Planning and Design and Number TEN Architects.

Kenora’s Harbourfront Business Development Plan of December 2019 states the redevelopment of Kenora’s Harbourfront area could reach over $25 million and could include 13 separate project phases, eventually transforming the area into a four-season attraction.

“It’s really about creating a new vision for the Harbourfront,” explains Director of Development Services for the City of Kenora, Adam Smith, in an interview with Q104 and KenoraOnline.

“It’s definitely a very exciting project. Very multi-dimensional with landscaping improvements, Whitecap improvements, public docking, infrastructure assets, and then of course celebrating the Indigenous history around the area.”

In recognition of northwestern Ontario’s shared Indigenous history, Smith explains the revamped Harbourfront area’s plans include a gathering circle to celebrate 20 local First Nation communities and the Metis Nation of Ontario, as well as an Indigenous art walk on the boardwalk.

“It’s going to be exciting,” adds Smith. “Just an overall beautification of the area to draw that activity that we want to see, and to really make it quite the attraction – both regionally and I think nationally as well.”

Next, Smith says the City of Kenora will be hosting public engagements on the Harbourfront’s redesign work, before work begins on McLeod Park and Husky the Muskie once the City applies and receives grants for the roughly $500,000 in work for those two areas.

Smith says additional, possible work on the Harbourfront moving forward could include:

- Additional parking spaces, docks, play spaces and natural areas,
- A picnic area, pond hockey, pool and sauna area,
- The development of a new restaurant, bar and condominium,
- A pedestrian “woonerf” – meaning a shared road for pedestrian use,
- Ground and water shuttle services,
- Additional events under the Whitecap,
- Additional surveillance,
- Complete occupancy of the Harbourfront’s commercial spaces,

Additional work not included in the $25 million estimate would include capital work related to the intersection of Water Street, Bernier Drive and Second Street South. Notably, Bernier Drive may be turned into a pedestrian roadway to help spur downtown activity.

Despite a hefty cost, Smith explains that the $25 million of work will be spread out similar to Kenora’s four-phase downtown revitalization work.

“It’s definitely going to be a multi-phase project. Don’t expect to be spending $25 million in a given year. It will be similar to the downtown revitalization program. It will also be predicated on receiving funding for other levels of government.”

The City is contributing $255,000 towards the $952,000 of design work, with $50,000 coming from the Municipal Accommodation Tax, $325,000 from the Northern Ontario heritage Fund, $325,000 from FedNor and $20,000 from a Tourism and Economic Development Recovery Grant.