Destination Manitoulin Island will operate out of South Baymouth marina

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TEHKUMMAH – Destination Manitoulin Island (DMI) has found a new office space on the Island as it will soon be occupying the seasonal retail space at the South Baymouth marina in the Township of Tehkummah.

The township issued a call for tenders for prospective businesses to occupy the retail space at the marina in South Baymouth between May 1 and October 31, 2020. DMI was the lone bidder on the tender.

According to rough details from a recent council meeting, the business will be offering light snacks and refreshments through the space. It will have a staff of two persons per day.

Council voted unanimously to approve the tender of a monthly rate of $400 plus hydro, although Councillor Eric Russell was not present at the meeting.

The Expositor spoke with DMI director of operations Shelba Millette and asked how the new space would aid the organization’s future directions and goals. Ms. Millette declined to get into specifics at this time but she said the group would soon be issuing a press advisory to outline its Island-wide plans.

DMI formerly occupied the Manitoulin Welcome Centre near the swing bridge in Little Current but has expressed dissatisfaction with its rental agreement, saying it wished to shift its focus to Island-wide marketing initiatives that are largely focused online.

During contract negotiations with the Northeast Town (the owner of the Manitoulin Welcome Centre building), DMI suggested the town tender for the space so DMI could set forth a proposal about what exactly it would be willing to offer. Near the end of the contract process, the tourism marketing organization announced it would not be submitting a bid to operate the space.

DMI board member Lorie Leeson, who has served as president of the organization and is also a member of council in the Township of Tehkummah, seconded and voted in favour of the motion to grant the tender to DMI.

However, with only one tender being submitted and the fact that the vote would have carried without Councillor Leeson’s vote, clerk-administrator Silvio Berti told The Expositor that even though the circumstances may look “iffy,” the risk of a conflict of pecuniary interest was not significant. Additionally, both municipal council and the board of the organization are volunteer roles, so the possibility of making money through the deal was not present.

“With only one tender, it was pretty much a done deal. That space has been in contention for years and hasn’t been successfully rented for the last two summers, so it was a good thing to have somebody interested in stretching it out for the full six months,” said Mr. Berti.