Excavation work is tentatively scheduled to begin by the end of August on the $1 million Almaguin Highlands Outdoor Community Hub in Strong Township.
The hub is being built on land between the Strong Township Administration Office and Highway 124.
The Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation will cover half the construction costs through its Community Enhancement Program- Rural Enhancement Fund.
Another $350,000 is coming from FedNor under its Canada Community Revitalization Fund and the municipality is adding the remaining $150,000.
When complete, the hub will provide residents with a variety of events and activities that include yoga, fitness classes and a farmers market.
The hub can also accommodate other activities like various workshops, wellness and cultural events and skating during the winter.
The municipality began pursuing the hub when a study during COVID-19 indicated residents in the Almaguin area wanted more recreational activities.
The hub allows for the activities to take place in a safe and inclusive area.
The municipality says the community hub lines up with one goal of Strong's strategic plan which is to promote and encourage a healthy active lifestyle for people of all ages.
Strong's clerk administrator Caitlin Haggart says the goal is to have a community services advocator in place at the hub who will develop programs and events aimed at all demographics in addition to the various service groups like the Legion and Lions clubs.
Haggart said the type of events the hub can accommodate include drama, dance, music, recreation, leadership development and Indigenous peoples’ events.
She adds the hub will have a mixed use of unorganized activities like youth basketball on summer mornings and seniors' walking groups in the afternoon.
The hub will get a lot of ice use during the winter with adult skating on winter mornings followed by youth hockey in the afternoons.
Haggart says the municipality will apply for provincial government funding to hire the community services advocator.
The municipality's treasurer, Dan Truchon, says once in place, the hub employee will be an advocate for the Almaguin region and develop relevant programs that instill things like wellness, economic development and social engagement.
Truchon says this will be an internship position and the municipality will be looking for someone with a “solid positive attitude.”
The government site http://nohfc.ca/en/pages/programs/people-talent-program/workforce-development-stream has information about the internship position.
As for the hub’s completion, Truchon says if there are no unexpected delays, it should be finished by the end of the year.
Rocco Frangione is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the North Bay Nugget. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.
Rocco Frangione, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The North Bay Nugget