Sault Ste. Marie launches fundraiser for Downtown Plaza project

The City of Sault Ste. Marie is turning to local businesses and individuals to help pay for the proposed Downtown Plaza. It has launched a fundraising campaign with the goal of raising $600,000.

Tom Vair, the deputy CAO of community development for the city, said the local Rotary club has already contributed $200,000 to the campaign, leaving $400,000 still left to be raised. He said the city is inviting corporate donations as well as contributions from individuals.

"There's (sic) tax donation forms for anything above $25, and as well there are things like benches and trees that people can also sponsor or donate too and have a plaque or commemoration attached to it," Vair said.

The Downtown Plaza is designed to be a year-round attraction, featuring a skating rink and a stage among other amenities. Vair said a community fundraising campaign was always part of the Downtown Plaza project.

"When we started the project, we looked at this as a real community-building project, and we had applied to the different levels of government," he said. "We have received $500,000 from FedNor. We weren't successful in our NOHFC application. But fundraising was always a part of our strategy to get this plaza to come to life."

The city has committed $5.3 million to the project. The Downtown Association is also looking into how it can contribute.

"We've initiated a task force and we're in the early stages of that," said executive director Salvatore Marchese. "We've had one of our meetings with another one scheduled. And we're just asking for members of the community to come together and look for ways that businesses might be encouraged to add to the donation or become sponsors and just be a part of the plaza."

Marchese said one thing the organization's membership is asking for is more information. He said they specifically want to know how the plaza will benefit downtown businesses.