It’s all go for the BC Forest Discovery Centre’s $1.5 million Forests Forever project.
The Centre invited its backers and board members to be there Thursday, Oct. 5 to launch the fundraising to get all the work done by next spring.
The plan, according to Centre manager Chris Gale is to build a state-of-the-art exhibit designed to educate the public about modern innovation in forestry on the B.C. coast.
Western Forest Products (WFP), TimberWest and the Truck Loggers Association (TLA) are the project’s first major sponsors.
Western announced Thursday that it is donating $250,000 to the project. TimberWest has put in $150,000 and the TLA has contributed $75,000.
Gale said that other early contributors including Interfor, Coastland Wood Industries, Forest Innovation Investments, and Strategic Natural Resource Consultants, which has already brought the total raised to $500,000.
“I was stunned when I heard how much Western was donating,” he said after the launch.
The Forests Forever – Innovation in Modern Forestry exhibit, expected to be complete for Summer 2018, will provide an immersive and interactive experience for visitors to learn about modern forest management and its benefits to the B.C. coast.
Gale said that the Centre, now the third most visited pay-for-admission attraction on Vancouver Island, will get a new boost from this exhibit.
Forest Discovery Centre folks are already in talks with cruise ship lines about the possibility of ships stopping in the Cowichan Valley so passengers can visit the Centre, Gale said.
Visitors will follow the life cycle of a commercial tree, from seedling to finished product, and will be able to participate in the forestry process by measuring the forests with lasers, flying drones, and simulating harvesting techniques, while learning how to mitigate climate change.
The exhibit will be housed in the main museum building. The exhibit will be the modern day complement to the historical elements of the centre, including the popular steam train, fire tower, and logging camp.
“We are so excited about this project, and are looking forward to all members of the forest community becoming involved,” said Chris Gale, BCFDC manager.
“Western is proud to be a part of this exhibit, which will show how the forest industry has lasting positive economic, environmental and social impacts for coastal communities,” Shannon Janzen, Western’s vice president and chief forester, said when announcing the huge contribution.
“We are pleased to support this major improvement to the BC Forest Discovery Centre,” Jeff Zweig, president and CEO of TimberWest, said. “The upgrades at the Centre will give visitors a modern overview of the forest sector — highlighting how science and innovation are transforming the industry. Interactive tools and informative displays will help convey how forestry has evolved in the 21st century and the exciting future for this important pillar of the B.C. economy.”
Both Western’s Kindry Mercer and TimberWest’s Domenico Iannidinardo pointed out that, since there aren’t many places the public can learn about modern forestry, the exciting new display could also fire younger visitors with a desire to follow a career in forestry.
The timeline is short, according to Gale.
“We want to do the construction over the winter and spring and be ready to open by summer 2018.”