Movin’ on up: Visitor Centre takes shape

Trent Ernst, Editor


For the last few months, very little has been visible of the new Visitor Centre. Construction focused on site prep and if folks couldn’t see the work that was happening on the foundation, they are to be forgiven, as the gravel has been piled in such a way as to obscure the view from the road.

But last Friday, all that changed as a crew from Tall Timbers Log Builders out of Abbotsford showed up, along with all the logs and roofing for the new building.

By the end of that day, the building had started to rise, and by this week Monday, all the logs were in place and work was starting on the roof.

Site Supervisor Dave Simpson says that it’s going up so fast because this is the second time that the building has been built.

“They build it in their yard in Abbotsford,” says Simpson, who is looking after the construction for Summit Brooke construction who were awarded the contract earlier this year. “Once they get it to where they want it to be, they then tear it apart, put it on trucks and send it up. It’s like Lincoln Logs.”

The logs are designed to set one upon another, each supporting one another. There are long metal bolts that run the length of the end longs that can then be tightened as the building settles. “They’re estimating approximately 5 inches of movement as the logs season and settle,” says Simpson. “As the building settles you just go along and tighten the bolts.”

He points to a pile of what looks like big chunks of Styrofoam sandwiched between plywood. “Those are the roof panels,” he says. “12 inches of insulation, between sheets of OSB. They get strapped with a two by four, then another layer of 5/8 plywood. On top of that is a sticky membrane, and then the roofing metal, which will be the same colour as the community centre.”

Currently, the plans are to finish up the building sometime in mid-December, depending on the weather. It was originally slated to be done by the end of this month, but weather issues have put the project about a month and half off schedule.

Wait, weather issues? Wasn’t this the most beautiful summer ever? Yes. Too beautiful, in fact, says Simpson. “They dropped the logs for this last year, and then they went back to get them this year. When they’re in the yard, they peel them, mill them, do whatever they need. But they had issues getting some of the bigger logs out of the forest because of the danger of fire.”

This has been a design build. They’ve been designing the project even as I’ve been working on the project. That’s caused some delay, too.”

Other issues include lack of supplies and materials. “Dean over at TRU has bent over backwards to help me, but there are things he just doesn’t carry because there’s no demand for it here. I’ve had to go to Dawson Creek and Grande Prairie to get certain things. That’s the biggest thing. One other area I’ve had issues is finding qualified personnel. I’ve got good labourers, I’ve got good sub-trades, but trying to find an actual carpenter has been a hassle.”