Thunder Bay CEDC provides $40,000 in funding to support the recovery of the local culinary and tourism sector

Tuesday July 21, 2020 – The Thunder Bay Community Economic Development Commission (CEDC) and its Board of Directors are pleased to announce $40,000 in funding to help support the Waterfront BIA’s StrEATery project. The CEDC’s Board of Directors approved the funding through an Economic Development Reserve Fund (EDRF) grant which aims to support local projects and initiatives that create jobs and stimulate business.

“The Board of Directors for the CEDC is pleased to be able to support initiatives like the StrEATery project,” says Craig Urquhart, Chair of Thunder Bay CEDC Board of Directors. “This kind of initiative where multiple local businesses can benefit is crucial to Thunder Bay’s economic development particularly at a time like now, when we need it most”.

COVID-19 has significantly impacted the local hospitality and tourism industry with the complete closure of dining establishments initially and the phased re-opening to include take-out and delivery with limited indoor seating. The economic impacts can be felt throughout the City with millions of dollars in sales having been lost collectively and over 90% of culinary employees initially laid off. To stimulate the return of the local culinary and tourism industry the Waterfront District BIA developed the StrEATery project in partnership with the City of Thunder Bay, Thunder Bay CEDC and Tourism Thunder Bay. The StrEATrey project is a COVID recovery and economic development initiative that aims to retain the majority of the district’s culinary partners by establishing a new outdoor dining area that is compliant with Ontario’s COVID requirements.

“The current situation has impacted the hospitality and tourism industry most significantly,” says Paul Pepe, Manager Tourism Thunder Bay. “The StrEATery project will be a key contributor to the recovery of the Waterfront District’s culinary scene and Thunder Bay’s tourism industry. Tourism Thunder Bay has also established a pop-up Pagoda in partnership with the project to help stimulate greater community and domestic visitor engagement in supporting visitor attractions across the city.”

The StrEATery will provide 20 downtown restaurants with access to their own outdoor space for patios that did not have the ability to utilize space for outdoor seating prior to COVID. In the first year of operation the project will provide seating for 160 patrons and is anticipated to generate $1.9 million in sales among the area restaurants. The project also created 3 full time seasonal jobs and will allow for 60 – 100 local culinary staff to return to work. Another benefit of the StrEATery project is that it is a pilot project for a pedestrian promenade within Port Arthur’s downtown core adding animation, calming traffic and supporting a more vibrant and walkable business district.

“We are pleased our Board recognized this timely opportunity to help up to 20 local businesses expand their ability to serve their customers and maximize their potential to generate revenue coming out of pandemic restrictions,” says Eric Zakrewski, CEO for Thunder Bay CEDC. “This investment puts people back to work immediately and will inform the City as to the larger and longer term potential of the StrEatery concept.”

The funding from the EDRF grant will be used to help support the StrEATery activities such as the placement of stone barriers, planters, COVID compliant signage, and picnic tables. The funding will also support the hiring of security to ensure safety of patrons at the StrEATery and the purchase of shade/rain resistant umbrellas and bases, marketing initiatives, insurance, waste removal, portable washroom rentals and cleaning, PPE and staffing to include coordination, cleaning/sanitizing, and general maintenance of the area.

“The Waterfront District BIA would like to thank the Thunder Bay Community Economic Development Commission (CEDC) for their financial support for the StrEATery and Marketplace. It is because of the CEDC we are able to offer additional programing over the summer as well as some much-needed shade for our patrons,” says Jim Comuzzi, the Waterfront District BIA Board Chair. “These funds will also help us offset some of the significant costs the BIA has incurred with maintaining the space (staffing, public restrooms, marketing, cleaning and security). We are looking forward to working with the community partners, over the summer and fall, to showcase what our downtown North Core has to offer as well as its future potential.”



Madeline Dennhardt, Marketing and Information Officer, Thunder Bay CEDC, (807) 630-3359,

About CEDC:
The CEDC is responsible for business development, retention and expansion, entrepreneurial support, opportunity promotion, and the collection and assessment of key business data. The CEDC receives formal proposals for projects that will contribute to economic development. It responds quickly to new opportunities and initiatives to attract direct financial involvement from government and private sectors. For more information, visit

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