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Future uncertain for Lake Shebandowan accessible camp

What lies ahead for a unique accessible camping facility just west of Thunder Bay is in question.

Wilderness Discovery Resort enjoyed by people with disabilities

The Wilderness Discovery Resort on Lake Shebandowan enables those with disabilities to spend time outdoors, thanks to accessible boats and facilities. (Supplied)
Days could be numbered for unique accessible wilderness resort near Thunder Bay. The Wilderness Discovery Resort on Lake Shebandowan is built on leased land. And the government wants to sell that land. 8:31
What lies ahead for a unique accessible camping facility just west of Thunder Bay is in question.The Wilderness Discovery Resort, at Lake Shebandowan, is run by HAGI Community Services for Independence.

But HAGI says it may not be able to keep the resort open because the government wants to sell the land on which it’s built, for more than the non-profit can afford.

Andrew Tims said that would be a shame.

He visits the resort each summer with his son, who has cerebral palsy.

"We'd be at a loss for at least two weekends over the summer — very important weekends — we wouldn't be getting out of the city at all, basically."

The head of HAGI Community Services said he's not sure how long the organization will be able to keep running the resort.
David Shannon (agora.lakeheadu.ca)

Ontario Realty Corp. owns the land it's build on, and leases it to them, David Shannon said.

Now that the lease has ended, he said, the province wants to sell the 6.8 acres of land at market value for over $860,000, and HAGI can't afford to buy it.

"The current cost is extraordinary, and I do think it's short-sighted of government,” he said.

"Our work, as a result of all the programming we provide to people with disabilities at no cost to government, is saving the government hundreds of thousands of dollars every year."

Shannon noted their board will be meeting next Wednesday to discuss the problem.

“There's deep concern, deep concern on the part of these campers. Many of these people have been coming for years, and they love it."

Shannon said the resort gives people with disabilities the chance to enjoy the outdoors, and there is no other resort quite like this one in the world

He noted HAGI will open the resort for at least part of this summer, but he's not sure what will happen after that.

Losing the resort would be a sad proposition for Tims, whose 13-year-old son Connor enjoys campfires, boating and fishing.

"It's very unique for Thunder Bay, and it would be a definite shame to lose it."

A spokesperson for Infrastructure Ontario said HAGI's long-term lease expired in 2013, and it's currently renewed month-to-month. Ian McConachie said no decisions about the future of the property have been made yet, but if the property is sold, it will have to be at market value.

"Our mandate at Infrastructure Ontario is to obtain fair market value to ensure the best value for the people of Ontario for the land," he added.

McConachie said Infrastructure Ontario has been in discussions with HAGI about either the renewal of the lease at market rates, or sale of the property at market value.

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