People from all over the world come to Silver Springs Cottage Resort, a Haliburton Highlands resort accommodation that offers an incredible view of Elephant Lake and the rolling hills to its east.
Snowmobilers pack the resort in winter and tourists who want to see the beauty of the Canadian Shield—some perhaps en route to Algonquin Park—also keep it busy in spring, summer and fall.
The business’ nine cottages have historically almost always been occupied, but the COVID-19 pandemic made it tougher for owner Dana Brad to provide guests with a safe way to visit. As a result, Brad turned to the Regional Tourism Relief Fund – Ontario’s Highlands (RTRF) to help make the resort more appealing to those who wanted to stay within their “bubble.”
RTRF was made available to Ontario’s Highlands businesses through the Ontario’s Highlands Tourism Organization (OHTO) to support tourism entities through non-repayable contributions of up to $100,000 for up to 50 percent of eligible costs for for-profit businesses and up to 100 percent of eligible costs for not-for-profit organizations. The RTRF is supported by a $3.67-million Government of Canada investment through the Federal Economic Development Agency of Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario).
At Silver Springs Cottage Resort, the funding offset costs for the modification of two cottages, once a joint building where renters shared bathroom and kitchen spaces. Brad hired local contractors to put a wall up between the units and add some features, including new separate kitchens and bathrooms. Other renovations were intended to increase energy efficiency and make the space more suitable for winter visitors, such as the installation of new, energy-efficient windows and roof.
The changes at Silver Springs are a monumental step for Brad, a one-time Highlands area cottager. In 2007, Brad gave up her previous life in Toronto to move permanently to the area to enter the hospitality business and work in an environment she loves. Receiving the RTRF funding was huge for Brad, and she was excited at the opportunities it afforded.
With renovations now complete, Brad has been able to get back to the business of hosting guests every week. Before the pandemic, she said, the resort was often packed, with some guests booking a year in advance. As Brad noted, the industry is slowly picking up again, with help from Ontario’s Staycation Tax Credit, and customers have been pleased with the renovations.
About FedDev Ontario and the Tourism Relief Fund
Ultimate Recipients of the Regional Tourism Relief Fund received non-repayable contributions of up to $100,000 from Ontario’s Highlands Tourism Organization to adapt and recover, attract new visitors and drive economic growth in the area. This is part of an overall Government of Canada investment through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) of more than $78 million for 11 Regional Tourism Organizations and Indigenous Tourism Ontario.