The Government of Canada 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.

“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,” said Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada.

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.

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“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,” said Patty Hajdu, Minister of Indigenous Services,  and MP for Thunder Bay-Superior North.

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.

“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,” said Marcus Powlowski, MP for Thunder Bay-Rainy River.

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Featured image: Conceptual design image of the north entrance of the Administration and Visitor Centre. Credit: Parks Canada (CNW Group/Parks Canada)

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