Great Wolf Lodge coming to Cornwall will ‘change the face’ of the region, mayor says

Great Wolf Lodge Cornwall

The Great Wolf Lodge planned for Cornwall will have a far-reaching economic impact that could extend well beyond the city, says Cornwall Mayor Justin Towndale.

“This will change the face of Eastern Ontario, not just Cornwall, I would argue Ontario as a whole,” Towndale told EOBJ. “It will also give us one of the premier tourist attractions not only in this area, but in the entire province.”

American company Great Wolf Resorts has entered into an agreement of purchase and sale for 40 acres of land along Hwy. 401 at the northern extension of Nick Kaneb Drive in Cornwall. The site is the planned home for a US$350-million indoor water park and resort that would be constructed over the next few years.

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Once complete, it is expected to draw visitors from Ontario, Quebec and northern New York.

“They’re expecting 670,000 visits a year and that’s unlike anything this region has ever experienced,” said Bob Peters, manager of economic development with the City of Cornwall. 

The project also adds a nice lift to Cornwall’s economic diversification plan.

“We’re one of the oldest communities in Eastern Ontario and Canada and throughout our history we were primarily a manufacturing centre,” said Peters. “Which meant when the economy boomed, we boomed, and when the economy went into depression, we led the way.

“Over the last 15 years plus, Cornwall has been diversifying into other sectors. So, from an economy point of view, this puts another very strong foundation in our economic diversification program.”

When complete, the resort is projected to create 500 new jobs, in addition to 2,500 construction jobs in the near term.

Peters said local businesses stand to benefit, too. “(Great Wolf Resorts) data shows that they actually push hotel rooms to other area hotels, they don’t take away from the community, they don’t compete with the local environment.”

Welcoming Great Wolf Lodge to Cornwall

Operating in more than 20 locations in North America, Great Wolf Resort’s signature attractions are its indoor water park and large family guest rooms.

The Cornwall facility will include an indoor activity centre featuring rope walks, mini golf and arcade games, as well as the brand’s signature interactive adventure game, MagiQuest.

As pleased as the municipality is to welcome Great Wolf Resorts, Peters says geography and location take much of the credit.

“They were looking for a spot in Canada and Cornwall sits in a perfect triangle between Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa along (Hwy.) 401. So, they approached us. They needed 40 acres for their lodge development and we had land available,” Peters said.

“It won’t be far from (Hwy.) 401 at all, you’re talking a couple of hundred metres at most. It will be very visible, very noticeable from the highway,” said Towndale.

To seal the deal, the city has to extend the road and municipal water and sewer network to that plot of land.

“The sale is completely dependent on our timeline for the road construction, which was already in our 2023 road construction budget,” said Peters.

There is an existing Great Wolf Resort in Niagara Falls, but it’s owned and operated by a separate company. The Cornwall facility will be managed by Great Wolf Resorts.

“It’s my understanding that the Niagara location is the only Great Wolf Resort not owned by Great Wolf. And it happened at the beginning of the Great Wolf journey and is not a model that they’re pursuing anymore,” said Peters. “Right now, they’re looking to expand their business outside the U.S. and are looking at other countries, including the U.K. and Mexico, in addition to other locations in the U.S.”

Mayor Towndale believes this is a once-in-a-lifetime investment for the region. 

“It’s a significant show of faith in the City of Cornwall from Great Wolf Resorts and it’s created a great buzz in the community and beyond. It’s not just the fact that it’s a substantial investment with jobs, it’s also the fact that it provides activities for families who already live here to do.”

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