Thunder Bay – SPORTS – Local paddlers, like all Ontarians, have experienced closures and financial hardship. Unlike other provinces that have played and lost, the LCC has remained vigilant and firm in its determination to ensure the safety of our paddlers. Our club on Boulevard Lake has remained closed at great risk to itself, which means,… .. a prolonged closure could mean the end of the club and the loss of its assets. We have not given up, which is why we are committed to reopening. The Lakehead Canoe Club is a member funded organization that derives the majority of its income from memberships, program fees and events it organizes or supports. Our reopening also has a direct impact on festivals south of the border and in the regions.
It comes down to harsh realities. We did not have the necessary funds, even for basic expenses, such as taxes and insurance. After two years of forced and voluntary hibernation, we look forward to following the plan to reopen Ontario and the city of Thunder Bay. We hope to be ready in 2022 to offer a paddle program to young people on Lake Boulevard. This is our plan. Young people have always been our top priority, because they are the ones who carry the promise of our collective future.
The drying up of Boulevard, the pandemic protocols, the focus on community spending elsewhere to tackle covid-19, and the unavailability of staff in the summer got us to this point. It’s time to reorganize, raise funds, find corporate sponsors and ask the City for more time and help. We want the paddles to dive into the water again next year. We want to hear the laughter of children who are new to personal watercraft; and to give new paddlers the chance to rent canoes and kayaks on a refurbished Boulevard Lake. We will be ready.
The action plan – in order or priorities
- The remaining small executive of the LCC has been called for a planning meeting to regroup and re-engage this month. These wheels are turning. They will assess our options and identify our organizational needs;
- Our next virtual AGM, in early November, will invite members and potential partners to ratify our community vision and define fundraising strategies and revitalize the paddler network;
- Hold conversations with the City and corporate partners. We will need guidance and financial support to get us back on track. We will start by paying off the pandemic debt;
- Then lay the foundations for the Paddlecamp 2022 Program (9 to 15 years old): endowment, equipment, repairs,…. In coordination with the City;
- Maintenance: secure financing for a new lightweight accessible wharf for access to the lake, building repairs; … .. a long list
- Motivate senior paddlers and corporate teams to relaunch several dragon boat festivals across the region. Let’s bring the party back to Boulevard, even if it looks a little different. It’s a whole new world; which, I hope, does not exclude healthy hobbies.
- Restore our reputation as a regional boating center of excellence.
Thank you all for your selfless patience. It is the time for sacrifices. Now is the time to rebuild, …… with your help.
A note of well-being: A teenage boy approached us recently, expressing his interest in learning to paddle one of our Olympic level boats. We allowed him to explore a whole new world. He has reached out and is spending his spare time paddling, although it is a little wet. Maybe one day another Olympian will come out of Thunder Bay.
I hope to see a good representation of our network of paddlers attending our virtual AGM in November, a date to be announced soon.
I am grateful and have high hopes.