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Ontario Recreation Centre

Ontario Working With Thunder Bay Community to Reopen Recreation Centre
for People with Disabilities


Centre Would Continue to Provide Barrier-Free Services
 Ontario is working with Thunder Bay community groups to reopen the Wilderness Discovery Family Resort and Conference Centre on Shebandowan Lake, which provided outdoor recreational opportunities for individuals with impairments. 
In 2015, the local organization operating the property decided to redirect its resources to other programming. Local community groups have expressed interest in acquiring the fully accessible property so that they can continue to offer  barrier-free services and recreational facilities for Ontarians and their families.
The province will consult with indigenous partners and will work with the local community to develop a detailed plan for the property, outlining specifics for the centre as well as plans for other community programming to serve youth, veterans  and seniors.
Supporting services for communities is part of Ontario’s plan to create jobs, grow our economy and help people in their everyday lives.

“I’m happy that we’re finally able to discuss proposed next steps regarding the Shebandowan Lake property. I know how important it is to the Thunder Bay community to get the Wilderness Discovery Family Resort and Conference Centre back  up and running again, and as quickly as possible. Additionally, I want to thank the Minister of Community and Social Services Helena Jaczek and the Minister of Infrastructure Bob Chiarelli for their support.”
—Bill Mauro, MPP for Thunder Bay-Atikokan
“Ontario is committed to working with local community groups in Thunder Bay to reopen the Lake Shebandowan property, to give them a chance to reclaim a beloved fixture of their region and help it grow.”
—Bob Chiarelli, Minister of Infrastructure
“The re-opening of the Wilderness Discovery Centre will help enhance the lives of many local residents and others, including those with physical impairments for years to come. This
announcement provides an opportunity for local community groups to revive barrier-free services and recreational facilities for Ontarians who use this centre.”
—Dr. Helena Jaczek, Minister of Community and Social Services
§  The Shebandowan Lake property has 2,209 feet of shoreline and is located in the District of Thunder Bay. §  The Wilderness Discovery Family Resort and Conference Centre was
established in the early 1980s by the Handicapped Action Group Inc. to promote outdoor recreation for people with disabilities.§  The terms for any transfer of the Shebandowan Lake property would ensure that the lands were used for the purpose for which they were transferred.

 Bob Hookham President  of Fort William Rotary Club.
“ It is an awesome phenomenal day, an emotional day which has taken at least 22 months to bring this around. It is a great day.”

“ Many  of us take this for granted- nature, fishing, being out there  in the wildernesss. The  disabled community does not have that option so to be able to give them that luxury and make life as normal  as possible is great. That is what the service clubs do best.”

“It was a journey going through this. We pulled two ministries together to transfer this land so in the future the new corporation will own it outright,  I think that is historical.”

“The camp will look similar as it does today with 6 cabins and two apartments down below, with a conference centre  that seats 120 people. We will add a commercial kitchen to it and make it more  open to other functions and other groups  as well as make improvements through out including new docks.  There is about $350,00 to $400,00 work that needs to be done before it opens. This summer and fall will help us do that and it will be state of the art.”

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