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Government of Canada announces over $37M contract award to build Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area Administration and Visitor Centre

Press Release

From: Parks Canada

January 31, 2024

Parks Canada’s first-ever building to seek Passive House Plus certification and net-zero carbon standards

The Government of Canada is making one of the largest freshwater protected areas in the world more accessible by awarding the contract for construction of an Administration and Visitor Centre. Once complete, it will serve as Parks Canada’s primary operations base and visitor reception area for Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area.

Today, the Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, and the Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Indigenous Services and Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Northern Ontario and Member of Parliament for Thunder Bay-Superior North, announced over $37 million in federal funding for the contract award to construct the Administration and Visitor Centre – a place for connection and visitor discovery and Parks Canada’s first Passive House Plus, net-zero carbon build – for Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area in Nipigon, Ontario.

This landmark project will serve as Parks Canada’s primary operations base to ensure the ecologically sustainable use and cultural heritage of this national marine conservation area for generations to come. The centre will also welcome Canadians and visitors from around the world, facilitating meaningful visitor experiences by sharing the rich history of Indigenous peoples and coastal communities in the area. The Administration and Visitor Centre is anticipated to open to the public in 2026.

This net-zero carbon project supports commitments in the Greening Government Strategy to net-zero emissions by 2050. This project will be the first Parks Canada administered building to be built to Passive House Plus certification and net-zero carbon standards and will demonstrate innovation and leadership in sustainable building practices. The building has been designed, and will be constructed, using sustainable practices such as superior thermal storage due to its super-insulated envelope, optimized site orientation, sustainable material selection, and on-site energy generation. By harnessing renewable energy sources, the Administration and Visitor Centre will meet its own energy needs while also reducing long term energy costs.

The construction contract has been awarded to Finn Way General Contractor Inc., based in Thunder Bay, Ontario, following a competitive process. The contract includes initiatives that will promote employment opportunities and use of suppliers and contractors within local Indigenous communities. The federal funding received for this project comes in part from the $557 million announced by the Government of Canada in late 2022 earmarked for Parks Canada priority projects to focus on climate resiliency, public safety, built heritage, and improved visitor experiences. This project is the most significant federal investment at a Parks Canada administered place in the Northern Ontario region.

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Quotes

“Our government is committed to achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050, as well as investing in the greening of our operations to support Canada’s transition to a cleaner economy. As the first-ever Passive House Plus certified, net-zero carbon building administered by Parks Canada, the new Administration and Visitor Centre for Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area is an excellent example of this commitment. Climate change is one of the greatest global challenges of our time and this investment highlights government leadership in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and delivering a low-carbon, climate-resilient, and clean-growth economy.”

Steven Guilbeault,
Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada

“Today’s milestone is an important next step for the Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area! This federal investment will create a permanent space to welcome visitors to our region which will also serve as the first Parks Canada building to be built to Passive House Plus certification. This project is an exciting blend of conservation, economic development through tourism, and sustainable design. I can’t wait to see the space!”

Patty Hajdu,

Minister of Indigenous Services, Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Northern Ontario and Member of Parliament for Thunder Bay-Superior North

“Our government is working hard to create economic growth and job opportunities in northern communities across Canada. Parks Canada has shown leadership by constructing the Lake Superior Administration and Visitor Centre in Nipigon, Ontario and it will create a positive ripple effect in the economy and boost growth across the entire region. This project is an example of how this government has been able to balance environmental protection and economic growth. Environmental protection is resulting in the creation of good, permanent jobs and long-term positive impacts to communities across Northwestern Ontario.”

Marcus Powlowski,

Member of Parliament for Thunder Bay-Rainy River

Quick facts

  • Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area, once fully established, will be part of a nation-wide system of protected areas managed by Parks Canada, and will be approximately 10,000 square kilometres in size, occupying almost 13% of the largest freshwater lake in the world by surface area.
  • Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area protects rich, natural and cultural heritage and contains remarkable features, including:o  the connection between Indigenous Peoples and the lands, waters, and resources spanning thousands of years;o  the cultural heritage of First Nations, Métis, and Euro-Canadian fur-traders and settlers;o  amazing biodiversity with over 70 fish species and rare arctic-alpine plants;o  unique geological formations of columnar basalts, shatter cones and sea caves coupled with dramatic terraced landscapes, Superior Shoals, and some of the world’s oldest known rocks; and,

    o  70 known archaeological sites varying from pictographs to grave sites, shipwrecks, and more.

  • Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area is a key contribution by Parks Canada in support of Canada’s National Conservation Plan (NCP). It’s a concrete example of conserving our country’s natural environment, restore ecosystems and connect with Canadians.
  • The Administration and Visitor Centre will be a net-zero energy building, with a goal of net-positive energy production that would allow for surplus energy to be used for charging of fleet and public electric vehicles (EVs).
  • The building is designed with a 100-year service life that will operate with reduced maintenance and energy requirements, contributing to long-term environmental, asset, and financial sustainability. With geothermal and photovoltaic energy generation, ongoing maintenance and operation of the building will be less susceptible to the rising costs of fossil fuels.
  • Parks Canada remains committed to working in collaboration with Indigenous Peoples, local communities, and other stakeholders. The construction and management of the building is just one way in which Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area will provide economic opportunities and benefits to Indigenous businesses.

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Associated links

Contacts

Kaitlin Power
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change
819-230-1557
kaitlin.power@ec.gc.ca

Media Relations
Parks Canada
855-862-1812
pc.media@pc.gc.ca

Megan Miller
Public Relations and Communications Officer
Parks Canada, Northern Ontario Field Unit
megan.miller@pc.gc.ca

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