Lorne Hildebrand

Lorne Hildebrand

Group pitches ocean centre for Nanaimo

NANAIMO – Vision for place for residents and visitors to learn about oceans.

A legal entity has formed with the goal of establishing a world-class ocean centre in Nanaimo.

The newly formed Ocean Discovery Centre board is envisioning a centre where people can go to learn about oceans and the history of First Nations usage and respect of the oceans. Visitors will experience and participate in the impact they have on the ocean environment and what they can do to preserve it, said Tim Tessier, board vice-president.

Tessier said it would be similar to Science World in Vancouver.

“It’s far more than a museum,” said Tessier of the board’s vision. “It really is a centre, it’s a destination point. Museums, with all due respect, have the opportunity to capture a tourist once … This will be a world-class facility that there’s nothing like it in all of B.C.”

Tessier said it will be educational, environmental, but just as important, it will be an experience.

“While we live on the ocean, very few people have the opportunity to experience the adventure of undersea diving, so we’ll bring that in. There will be training and education facilities, that we’re looking at various partners to come into the facility for school groups etc., so it’s all encompassing,” Tessier said.

The organization is three weeks old, said Lorne Hildebrand, board president. It has hired Checkwitch Poiron Architects, an architectural firm, on retainer to aid with developing a plan and costing.

The organization has had informal discussions with other groups prior to formation, but with the plan, it will have something concrete to present to potential stakeholders.

“We’ve begun a process of really looking at what should it be. How big, how much, all of those things that we’ll be able to go back to folks and say, ‘Listen, we do have some answers now,’ or at least some answers to begin with and to start the discussion,” said Hildebrand.

He said there is currently no timeline for when Checkwitch Poiron’s plan will be complete, but he is hopeful it will be by the fall.

“I would hope that in two months, we would have a real clear understanding of what it was and the cost [that is] involved and that’s just a hope of mine,” said Hildebrand.

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