Digby marine experience centre moving forward

Jonathan
Jonathan Riley
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Next step: finding funding partners

The next step in developing the Bay of Fundy Experience Centre is finding the money.

Dean Kenley, chair of the BoFEx committee, says the centre could cost between $9 million and $16.7 million dollars, depending on final plans.

“We’re looking for partners and supporters with money and enthusiasm,” says Kenley. “The climate is tough, money is tight but the government wants high-quality projects and we’re giving them one on a silver platter.”

Kenley says he is prepared for people wanting to down-size the project.

“We’re willing to be flexible but I also believe we have to do this right,” he says. “It has to have that ‘wow’ factor. I want people to be walking out of there and they can’t wait to tell their friends. That’s the only was this is going to work.”

Kenley says provincial government has been very supportive.

He says the Department of Economic Renewal and Tourism is arranging for a series of meetings in Halifax to allow the BoFEx committee to present their ideas to several provincial departments including ERDT, Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture, Energy, and Communities Culture and Heritage.

ACOA staffers are visiting Digby next week.

Kenley presented to local councils last week the results of $50,000 feasibility study for a marine experience centre to highlight the Bay of Fundy “as one of the most unique and awe-inspiring sites in the natural world”.

They recommend locating a 16,000 sq. foot facility on the waterfront near the town’s visitor information centre. The building could house visitor experience galleries, live animal displays and touch tanks. The displays would focus on four main themes: tidal landscape, tidal innovation, marine ecology and tidal living.

The report recommends the town and the provincial government amalgamate the two visitor information centres in Digby and operate one VIC in the new facility.

The centre would also include space for education, research and industry partnerships.

The study includes conceptual drawings of a walkway extending out 200’ from the shore.

“The tidal walkway and pavilion will be a feature destination at the centre allowing visitors to interact with the changes, dynamics and scale of the Fundy tides as they walk out over the water via a sheltered glazed walked,” reads the report.

The walkway could include “fill and spill” installations that act like a tidal clock. At the pavilion at the end of the walkway, they suggest a tidal well, which lights up as the water fills it. They also talk about a lighting system above the well to “telegraph the rise and fall of the tides and act as a landmark for the centre”.

Kenley says besides government and financial partners, BoFEx will need the support of the whole community.

“Everyone, every business has got to get behind this,” he says. “This might be the biggest or one of the biggest things to ever come here. It could do for the area what Upper Clements did when it opened in 89.

“We are sitting on this incredible asset right here on our doorstep and I think it is time we do something with it—in a big way.”

jriley@digbycourier.ca

Organizations: BoFEx committee, Department of Economic Renewal and Tourism

Geographic location: Digby, Bay of Fundy, Halifax

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