Hopeful location picked for downtown Ocean Discovery Centre

By Spencer Sterritt
May 17, 2017 - 4:46pm

A concept for the Ocean Discovery Centre, taken from their business plan which was presented to City Council on Monday, May 15.Nanaimo Deep Discovery Association

NANAIMO — High-profile downtown waterfront property has been earmarked as the potential home of a tourism-boosting aquatic science centre.

The business plan for the Ocean Discovery Centre, proposed by the Nanaimo Deep Discovery Association, was presented to City Council on Monday. It suggested a prime spot for the facility would be a small corner of city-owned land at 1 Port Dr., where the event centre was to go.

Association president Lorne Hildebrand said pinpointing a potential spot means they can start actively working with other organizations, rather than just talking about possibilities.

“It allows us to move forward in a positive way so we're terribly excited about it.”

City council voted unanimously to have staff investigate leasing the land to the association.

Hildebrand said it's now time to inform residents and clear up any confusion about what they're proposing.

He stressed it won't have an aquarium and will be more like a science centre with interactive attractions. “You'll be able to see how man has interacted through the ocean and how technology has both been helpful and not helpful.”

According to the business report, the whole facility is expected to cost $50 million. Hildebrand said it will be funded federally and provincially, without any City money.

“I think everyone wants to know this isn't some big cash cow drain that's going to pull at everything and become an issue later on,” he said. “We're not going anywhere and asking for a need for a tax increase.”

The Ocean Discovery Centre is also being pitched as a tourist attraction aiming to boost the number of cruise ships stopping in Nanaimo. “They're looking for something to do, they want this kind of activity to go to,” he said.

Officials have long lamented the lack of local attractions to draw more ships, with back-to-back seasons featuring only six visits to the harbour city.


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