Martyrs' Shrine remains closed for second year
TAY TOWNSHIP, ONT. -- The ongoing pandemic has had devastating impacts on the local economy as several tourist hotspots remain closed again this year.
For the second year, Martyrs' Shrine in Tay Township will not open its Church and grounds to the public.
Father Michael Knox said the decision to keep the religious site closed came down to the vaccination rollout plan announced Thursday.
"Over 60 per cent of the people or more that we would be welcoming here would not be vaccinated yet, and so really the rollout set a lot of the discernment process," he said.
Roughly 120,000 visitors head to Martyrs' Shrine each year.
Father Knox said the closure would have far-reaching effects, from job losses to suspended contracts for local services and an estimated $26.6 million in economic spin-offs for the county.
Midland Mayor Stewart Strathearn said it's a significant hit to the community, and not only financially. "It also impacts us in terms of the ability of the shrine to provide religious support and psychological supports."
Discovery Harbour and Saint Marie Among the Hurons will also remain closed.
While staff with Huronia Historicals Parks said they are working with the Ontario government on possible reopening dates.
Meanwhile, Father Knox said they are doing what they can to reach out. "We are attempting to take all of the experiences and services that we would offer to people, should they be coming here, and bring them to an online medium," he noted.
Sunday mass is available online.
Donations to Martyrs' Shrine are eligible for a receipt for income tax purposes and can be made online to help support the return to regular operations this spring.