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Dumas discusses Active Living Centre with the Premier's Office

Rick Dumas, Mayor of Marathon, spoke to Dougall Media and provided updates regarding progress on the community's planned Active Living Centre. He also discussed a recent call between him, municipal officials, and Premier Doug Ford's office.

MARATHON — This project isn’t just active, it’s on a roll.

Marathon’s Mayor Rick Dumas and members of council spoke with a policy advisor from Premier Doug Ford’s office on July 8 to discuss funding for construction of the community’s future Active Living Centre.

Dumas – who was recently honoured with a Legacy Award for his years of service to the community – told Dougall Media the call was a good opportunity to identify the specifics of applying for money from the $200 million Community Sport and Recreation Infrastructure Fund announced as part of Ontario’s 2024 budget among other things.

“We’re going to be shovel-ready by mid-September with all aspects of this project. That’s what we wanted to bring to the government and, specifically, to the premier’s office with the policy advisor, saying clearly ‘Here’s where we are, our project is there.

“We wanted to make sure that we were just doing everything the right way so that when everything is laid out and the final application process is ready to be filled in, we’re ready to go and we wanted to make sure they’re fully aware of that.

“It’s also a project that’s going to benefit the region, not just Marathon,” he said.

Dumas said Marathon is regularly visited by their First Nations neighbours – Biigtigong Nishnaabeg and Netmizaaggamig Nishnaabeg – and residents from other nearby communities such as Terrace Bay, Schreiber, Manitouwadge, and White River, who use the current recreation complex and will find even greater use in the new Active Living Centre once it is complete.

He added the municipality hopes to have a final tender package for construction of the Active Living Centre ready to go by the end of August or early September.

“We want to keep the ball rolling on our ALC (Active Living Centre). We’re probably 85 to 90 per cent complete on the final design. We’re at the ‘C’ design – our architectural team’s working on ‘B’ and ‘A’,” Dumas said.

In terms of how the policy advisor reacted to the municipality’s plans, Dumas said the reception couldn’t have been better.

“They were very pleased with the progress the municipality has made on this project and, of course, it’s a big undertaking. They were very surprised that we had gotten to this stage already,” he said.

He highlighted the community’s contribution of nearly $5 million to the ALC project – and a recent decision made by Marathon’s council to expand their budget by $2.9 million to push the ALC project into its next phase.

“The next phase is simply the final, detailed drawings and the tender package. That costs a lot of money. It’s amazing when you look at it – it’s a big project,” he said.

Though the project will ultimately cost around $65 million to reach the finish line, Dumas is confident things are well on target.

Aside from provincial funding, Dumas and municipal staff have also been working with MP Patty Hajdu to potentially apply for the Green and Inclusive Community Buildings program – to which the federal government added $500 million over five years, in their own 2024 budget, to be put towards municipal community, culture and recreation facilities.

Dumas said the project is going to be “100 per cent green” and he hopes to have a total commitment for funding from both levels of government by early 2025, with construction to follow in the spring that year.

“We definitely need our partners – the provincial and federal governments – and they’re fully aware of that, not just for Marathon but most municipalities need some assistance in that regard.

“As programs are laid out we want to make sure we’re ready and in this case we’re fully ready,” Dumas said.

In the meantime, he said some of Marathon’s “corporate citizens” and partners from Biigtigong Nishnaabeg and Netmizaaggamig Nishnaabeg First Nations have also come forward to support the project financially.

“Now, it’s all putting it together . . . making sure we get our story to the forefront to say this is a huge asset for – not just Marathon – Northwestern Ontario. The economic impact this will generate not just for our community but throughout the province is huge.

“Those metals, those special beams, all of those interior and structural design things – for that matter, our architectural team and our design teams – are from North Bay and Toronto. The impact has already spread to the south. The supply chain is going to come from the northwest but we’ve made it clear to our architects and our design consultants that we want to make sure you can buy the products in Ontario and if it’s not Ontario then it’s got to be Canadian-made.

“That’s the key – is keeping the money in our backyard,” he said.

Austin Campbell, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

About the Author: Austin Campbell, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Austin Campbell is a local journal initiative reporter covering stories in the Superior North region.
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