Announcing a new plan!

The new management plan for the Sault Ste. Marie Canal is now complete and was tabled in Parliament on May 3rd. We would like to thank all those who offered valuable feedback and input during the review process. The new management plan will serve as a guiding document for the site over the next ten years. This newsletter provides a summary of what we heard during the consultation process.

Background

During the preliminary steps in the management planning review process for the Sault Canal plan, five sets of issues and opportunities were identified as major considerations for the new management plan: improving the condition of cultural resources, visitor experience enhancements, building Indigenous relationships, strengthening stakeholder relationships, and site operation during and following the ongoing construction projects.

Meetings with First Nations and Métis groups and key stakeholders revolved around these identified issues and opportunities and the proposed strategies to address them. Feedback and input from these sessions helped to further refine these strategies and create corresponding objectives and targets which guided the development of the draft management plan.

Public consultation took place in summer 2018 through comments gathered by mail, phone, email and at an open house session hosted at the canal in our newly rehabilitated Stores Building. The plan was finalised in December 2018 and was recently approved by the Minister of the Environment.

What we heard

The draft management plan outlined three key strategies: Infrastructure Improvements: The Foundation for the Future, Working Together with First Nations and Métis Partners, and The Gathering Place for History and Culture in Sault Ste. Marie.

The following feedback was expressed with regards to Infrastructure Improvements: The Foundation for the Future
• Identify private sector opportunities to enhance services and better utilize buildings.
• If possible, prioritize rehabilitation work so buildings that are of greatest significance and have the best opportunities for programming and revenue generation are completed first.
• Explore adding accommodations including RV camping on site as well as mooring facilities for boaters.

The following ideas were expressed with regards to Working Together with First Nations and Métis Partners
• Expand the site's definition of cultural resources beyond historic buildings and structures and broaden the theme from an engineering focus to include the First Nations and Métis history of thesite.
• Work more closely with First Nations and Métis partners to better tell their stories as the canal is the centre of Indigenous presence in the area.
• Create new visitor experiences in collaboration with First Nations and Métis partners.

The following ideas were expressed with regards to The Gathering Place for History and Culture in Sault Ste. Marie
• Continue working with partners to better promote the canal within the community and beyond.
• Host events, activities and programs to showcase local food, drink and music and make the site fun for visitors by offering more daily programming.
• Increase awareness and variety of recreational activities on site and explore adding a children's play area.

The final management plan incorporates the comments and ideas expressed during consultation. With respect to prioritizing infrastructure, the targets in the plan address priorities over the next ten years, based on available funding.