Conservatory, college, clothing mission get federal grants

Thunder Bay's botanical conservatory, Confederation College and the Clothing Assistance Mission will be making some upgrades thanks to a round of FedNor funding.

Conservatory, Confederation College, Clothing Assistance Mission receive funds for improvements

MP Don Rusnak announces FedNor funding for three Thunder Bay organizations at the city's botanical conservatory on Friday, May 26, while city councillors Rebecca Johnson and Shelby Ch'ng listen. (Submitted)

Thunder Bay's botanical conservatory, Confederation College and the Clothing Assistance Mission will be making some upgrades thanks to a round of FedNor funding.

On Friday, MP Don Rusnak announced the money, which is targeted at infrastructure and amounts to:

  • $100,000 for the Thunder Bay Centennial Botanical Conservatory
  • $100,000 for Confederation College
  • $46,500 for Community Clothing Assistance's Clothing Assistance Mission

"It's really the advocacy on the ground," Rusnak said about how the three recipients were chosen. "We, from Ottawa, don't make the decisions that happen in the regions or in the cities; we're really listening to the municipalities and the organizations that are on the ground. It's really about the voices here and what they want."

The money earmarked for Confederation College will allow the institution to replace aging signage. The new signs will include visuals, directional information, promotional material and community points of interest, and will be designed in a way that better reflects the college's growing Indigenous population.

The money for Community Clothing Assistance will be used to make improvements at the organization's Clothing Assistance Mission, which is located on May Street.

Executive director Eva Gulbinowicz said that will include facade improvements, the construction of a public washroom, and work to make the building more accessible.

"This funding is very important, because we can serve the Thunder Bay community at large, and we can offer much greater services now," she said at Friday's announcement. "We want to thank (FedNor) for the funding, because it's going to make a tremendous difference."

Exactly where the conservatory money will go isn't yet known; the city is currently looking at what improvements need to be made there, and in what order, said Sharon Sidlar, co-chair of the Friends of the Conservatory, a citizen-run group that advocates for the facility.

There are some things the group would like to see, however, she said.

"We're really hoping that, overall, we're going to see more accessibility with the paths, we're hoping to see both of the end wings opened and available to the public," Sidlar said. "We're really thrilled with this, because when we start looking at how changes are funded, and how this renewal will take place, it can't just be one level of government — the city just doesn't have the resources."

"We're really thrilled with the support from FedNor at this point in time, because we've been hoping for it for a really long time."

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