Dec 1, 2011 | Marmot, Winter 2011

Future Looks Bright for the new Mountain Centre

After months of construction under some of the most challenging conditions a record snowfall can deliver, the Vancouver Island Mountain Centre is open.

The wood, glass and stone building perches on a small hill overlooking Raven Lodge and the trailhead to Paradise Meadows, the newest structure in the burgeoning Nordic area of Mount Washington Alpine Resort.

The Vancouver Island Mountain Sport Society (VIMSS) has worked since 2008 to fund, design and build the Mountain Centre, and now has teamed with the Tribune Bay Outdoor Education Centre to offer unique programming.

VIMSS President Rick Morson envisions the Centre as a community centre for the Resort community, as well as a centre that can accommodate sports teams.

An air of excitement surrounded the building earlier this fall as the carpets were laid, beds constructed and furniture moved in, said administrator Gord Campbell, from the Tribune Bay Outdoor Education Centre. “People are very excited.”

The first floor of the building boasts a reception desk tucked behind a gas fireplace and towering glass lobby, ringed by the second floor foyer. A fitness centre was slated to open in late December and memberships as well as drop-in rates are available.

There are beds to sleep 40 in a series of dorm rooms, washrooms with fully accessible showers, and an elevator as well as stairs for second-floor access. The dual kitchen can handle two groups at a time and there is ample meeting space upstairs too.

Onsite manager Andrew Scherck hosted many impromptu tours of the building as curious residents and visitors stopped by, interested in the building’s progress.

The first booking was a coaching clinic for the B.C. Aboriginal Snowboard Team. More bookings were coming in by the day as the opening ceremonies approached, including school groups and a possible yoga retreat.

The facility has had a lot of support from both the public and business community. Members of the Coastal Community Credit Union had a team-building exercise in September, assembling cabinets in the dual kitchens. The Rotary club is trying to organize a Vancouver Island-wide event at the Mountain Centre, as well as donations of appliances for the kitchens.

Individuals and businesses have stepped up to sponsor parts of the building, like Rick Gibson, who has sponsored the lower lobby, Central Builders, Brian Findlay and family who have sponsored the main room and Coastal Community Credit Union, to name a few.

“We couldn’t have done it without our sponsors and supporters, and Mount Washington Alpine Resort has certainly been our big supporter,” Campbell said.

Morson also credited the funders who believed in the centre from the start: Rick Gibson (“He provided funding to us when it was just a dream”), Coast Sustainable Trust, North Island Economic Trust, Western Economic Development Corporation and lenders Coastal Community Credit Union. He also thanked MPs John Duncan and Don McRae, Comox Valley Regional District Director Edwin Grieves and Chief Administrative Officer Debra Oakman, Comox Mayor Paul Ives and Resort Director Brian Stamp for their guidance and support, and architect Jim Alders and contractor Alan Fletcher of AFC Construction.

The facility fits in well with other services offered at Mount Washington, in that it caters to large groups and offers hostel-style accommodation.

The outdoor education programs don’t compete with Mount Washington Alpine Resort programs either, Scherck said.

The facility wouldn’t book a wedding – Raven Lodge is the premier wedding spot. But the Mountain Centre is ideal for bridal parties needing space to get ready for a wedding across the parking lot at Raven Lodge, Scherck said.

The Mountain Centre has rental space for company meetings, but could just as easily host a retreat – providing accommodation as well as workshop space.

There are also some smaller offices suitable for rental, and a treatment room that Morson hopes a massage therapist or physiotherapist might like to book on a seasonal or long-term basis.

For more information or to book the Centre, please go online to:, e-mail

or call 250-331-9355.

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