Jul 1, 2009 | Marmot, Summer 2009

New Interpretive Hut Opens

Visitors wanting to access the Strathcona Provincial Park Trailhead from the parking lot beside Raven Lodge will notice a big change this summer: a new Interpretive Hut.

“It has taken close to 14 years of perseverance and the involvement of many people and groups to get this building to lock-up stage last fall,” said Andy Smith, Area Supervisor, BC Parks, Strathcona Area.”

While the Strathcona Wilderness Institute (SWI) has had a great deal of support from the local Rotary groups and private and corporate donors to date, the project still is in need of donations to complete the vision, he added.

BC Parks wants to increase accessibility to all parks and this Strathcona project, which also includes the construction of the new Trailhead area and a barrier-free access trail into Paradise Meadows, finally allows everyone to visit and enjoy this sub-alpine environment.

The building came together really quickly, said Steve Smith of the Strathcona Wilderness Institute (SWI). Mount Washington Alpine Resort donated the land for the Hut and parking lot that allows unfettered access into the park. The institute received a matching funds grant from Coastal Sustainability Trust to have the building constructed courtesy of Paul Henderson (PGH) from Courtenay.

There is still a lot of work to do, though: Smith would like to see the bottom floor finished with wheelchair accessible toilets, and the interior completed.

The group is prepared to operate the interpretive centre this summer even if funding doesn’t come through to finish off construction.

The building will feature interpretive displays, books for sale on the local area and maps. The institute will have a relief model map of the Park on display, too.

The building will serve as a base for the SWI’s walks and talks. Smith said the SWI hopes to extend its hours of use, but will have to rely on volunteers for now.

Smith is proud of the interpretive centre and what it represents. “We’ve always thought, this is a major park; it is the biggest park on Vancouver Island and it’s the first Provincial Park in B.C. Its birthday is March 2011. We thought this would be a really good thing to have for when the Park celebrates its 100th birthday” he said. ‘It’s a way to showcase the Park.”

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