Resort owner believes she's been short-changed

Province did not provide the funding she expected

Mattawa River Resort Supplied Photo

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Nicole Grigorov says she feels like she’s been scammed by the province’s Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation (NOHFC).

The owner of Mattawa River Resort says she’s out more than $100,000 in renovation expenses she believed she was going to get back from the province.

She was shocked to receive less than $20,000.

“We didn’t get the funding we were promised,” Grigorov said Friday. “I’ve spent $1.5 million renovating and retrofitting the cabins, restaurant and property. At first I was told I could get $750,000, but then that went down to $147,000.”

In the end, Mattawa River Resort received $18,000.

“I submitted all of my receipts and, to be honest right now, I feel like just giving up.”

Grigorov says she was told she could apply for a Northern Ontario Heritage Fund grant if she created employment, tourism and business as she winterized her property.

Grigorov says she hired the necessary people to do all of the work expecting to be compensated, but that never happened.

She says countless expenses, such as flooring, gravel and excavation, didn’t fall within the parameters of the grant according to NOHFC.

She called Nipissing MPP Vic Fedeli’s office, Grigorov says. His secretary returned her call, saying the office wasn’t responsible for decisions made by the Heritage Fund.

Fedeli said funding is up to the NOHFC and the proponents.

“They think I will shut up and go away, but I’m not going to,” Grigorov vows. “It’s bogus. I’m not going to lie down and take it. This is taxpayers’ money who provides grants and loans.”

In an email response to The Nugget, a Ministry of Energy, Northern Development and Mines official said “NOHFC investments for approved projects are disbursed on a cost-incurred basis. Not all project costs are eligible for reimbursement. Eligible project costs are determined by published program guidelines.”

While he would not discuss the specifics of Grigorov’s grant, Sydney Stonier, an official with Energy, Northern Development and Mines Minister Greg Rickford’s office, said NOHFC “will reimburse applicants for eligible expenses based on the terms and conditions of its legal agreement with an applicant.

“Clients are encouraged to work closely with NOHFC when undertaking their project to fully understand these terms and conditions agreed to in their contract.”

Grigorov had a tough year in 2019 when the resort lost thousands of dollars in bookings in May after Mattawa declared a state of emergency over flooding.

What was extremely frustrating, she says, was that Mattawa River Resort wasn’t part of the area under a state of emergency.

And, despite struggling to keep her doors open, Grigorov offered refuge to those who were displaced by flooding.

Up to 25 people were staying at the resort for free for more than two weeks, she says.

Now Grigorov, who recently closed her restaurant, fears she could be the one looking for help.

“I couldn’t afford to pay a chef and sever knowing I’m not going to get this funding now,” she says.

“The resort is still open, but I’m doing everything and running myself ragged. My sister and sister-in-law and a few good friends have come to help me. But at one time I had 19 people, including 12 full time on staff, and now I have two – one in the office and one in maintenance.”

With weddings and retreats booked for the spring and summer, Grigorov worries about finding the workers to keep everything running properly.

She applied for different grants to help subsidize their hourly wage, but was denied.

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