Government of Canada Earmarks $67 Million for Major Economic and Tourism Projects in QuebecSaguenay (La Baie borough), Quebec, April 22, 2008 – The Honourable Jean-Pierre Blackburn, Minister of Labour and Minister of Canada Economic Development, today unveiled the first phase of his 2008-2011 Strategic Plan entitled Major Economic and Tourism Facilities. Backed by a $67 million budget over three years, this phase will be devoted to the establishment of community economic facilities as well as to the development of major tourism projects centred on four main elements.
“This 2008-2011 Strategic Plan clearly shows that Canada Economic Development is tuned in to Quebec's regions. These regions made their socio-economic development needs and ambitions known to us through, among other things, the 14 advisory committees established at my request in fall 2006, and their recommendations as to the avenues we should follow have had a heavy bearing on our decisions. Today, we are unveiling the first phase of this plan that will help the regions of Quebec develop solid and sustainable advantages while enabling them to play an active part in our national growth,” stated Minister Blackburn, rejoicing at the collective effort that led to this positive initiative.
Phase I of the 2008-2011 Strategic Plan: Major Economic and Tourism Facilities
Part one of this phase concerns economic facilities and applies to two of the principal needs expressed by communities and regions. Coming in the wake of a highly-successful measure announced in fall 2006, the first element involves enhancing the Community Economic Facilities program which allows municipalities to carry out major projects such as, for example, extending a railway line or expanding a transhipment dock.
Minister Blackburn was especially proud to unveil the second element, which will enable Canada Economic Development to now extend its assistance to projects relating to band with services in the regions, a condition essential to regional development in today's world. In this way, Canada Economic Development will be lending support to those regions and communities experiencing slow economic growth.
The second part of this phase, which also consists of two elements, has to do with support of major tourism projects. Funding awarded by Canada Economic Development will serve to, among other things, foster development of international cruiseship ports of call. Projects that could benefit from funding in this area include upgrades to port facilities to allow the berthing of international cruise vessels and the operation of tourist attractions liable to raise a region's tourism drawing power.
The second element in this part deals more specifically with the development of large-scale tourist attractions that have a potential lever effect on the regional economy. Approved projects must further the diversification of the region's tourism offering while improving its tourist retention rate.
In all cases, these projects must generate direct spin-offs for the regions and lead to the creation of sustainable jobs. Seven regions are targeted by this measure, namely Gaspésie–Îles-de-la-Madeleine, Côte-Nord, Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean, Bas-Saint-Laurent, Abitibi-Témiscamingue, Nord-du-Québec and Mauricie, along with Quebec's 21 Regional County Municipalities (RCMs).
The $67 million budget allocation for the Major Economic and Tourism Facilities phase of the plan includes the funds earmarked for cruiseship ports of call in the Government of Canada's February 2008 budget. These funds are intended to promote the development of tourism infrastructure at strategic ports along the St. Lawrence Seaway and Saguenay River in order to help port communities develop attractions to appeal to the international cruise tourism market.
“Here is yet another example of Canada Economic Development's commitment to working hand-in-hand with local stakeholders in Quebec's regions to further projects that will bring new impetus to their economies and redefine the future of their communities,” Minister Blackburn concluded.