Nipigon Makes Great Strides in Tourism
Traditionally a “mill town”, Nipigon saw its economy changed when its major employer, a plywood mill, burned to the ground in the winter of 2007 leaving some 120 residents out of work. As a destination of choice for international anglers and hunters for over 100 years, and as the centre of the newly-established Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area, it seemed a natural choice for the town to begin the transition to tourism as its major economic driver.
In one season, nearly 200,000 tourist vehicles travel through the community’s highway corridor. A recent data collection project however concluded that only a small portion of those vehicles were stopping in the community for one or more nights. It was obvious that there was a high need for Nipigon to initiate tourism product development.
In 2013, Nipigon rebranded itself with a fresh new logo evoking images of water, open space, and mountains. Paired with the new slogan, “A Natural Edge”, Nipigon was on its way to re-building its reputation as a destination for adventure and discovery. In March of that year, the Township completed its waterfront development master plan which council adopted as the framework for any future development.
One of the key factors ensuring the success of the waterfront development would be to establish a connection for visitors from the highway to the community, and from the community to the water’s edge. To achieve this, in 2015, Nipigon secured $1.9 million in funding from NOHFC and FedNor to complete the Phase 1 Nipigon Water Development Project. With a total budget of $2.8 million, this major infrastructure project includes an enhanced events park, a lookout area and 40-foot tower, lagoon boardwalks, and hard infrastructure. The project is about 90% complete, and without any marketing or promotion of any kind, sites such as the tower and turtle viewing platform in the lagoon are already attracting the attention of visitors.
“These interactive attractions will create a unique experience for the visitor, and make that connection from the highway, through to the downtown core and the water, increasing visitation into the community,” said Economic Development Officer Suzanne Kukko.