District investing $1.5-million in future of tourism

Trent Ernst, Editor

 

Town council has approved spending $1.5-million on a new building that will replace the current Visitor Information Centre, as well as add in space for a variety of other purposes.

The building was put out for proposal last August, but only got approved earlier this month. Mayor Wren says council decided it was time to move on the project. “We just had the CDI workshop, and the one area when we talk about sustainability, the one area where we have the most opportunity for impact and growth is tourism,” says Wren. “We’ve got an old building that’s been converted into a VIC, but it’s run down. You have a short building season in Tumbler Ridge. For a project of that size you need to get a builder in place so they can do the permitting, the architectural work done so that when the frost goes out, it can be done within the building season.”

The decision to start building the VIC was made before the mine shutdown, but Wren believes that now is the time to diversify. “That’s where council has focused a lot of energy: making the community sustainable. We will have a new marquis building in the downtown, and it’s not just going to be a Visitor Centre, but it will house other things. Hopefully the economic development will be housed out of there, as will the Chamber of Commerce.”

He says this is something the District has been working on for a while. “If you go back, the original concept was back when Ray Proulx was Economic Development Officer, so it’s taken us some time to get to the point where we’re at now. Last year, Councillor Mackay did a bunch of work, dusted off the plans, updated them, now here we are, where we’ll have a groundbreaking soon.”

The new building was put out for RFP last summer, with the intention of construction starting in May of this year, with an occupancy date of October 15 set.

A number of bids were submitted, but Summit Brooke was the company submitting the winning bid. Summit Brooke is a construction company out of Abbotsford BC. They were chosen, says Wren, because they had the best bid and they are a reliable company.

The new building will be built across the street from the current Visitor Centre, next to the Tumbler Ridge Inn. This new location will offer improved access for visitors driving RVs and other large rigs, as access to the parking lot for the current Visitor Centre is difficult for larger vehicles.