Canada gives Tofino biosphere centre project a $7M injection

The Tofino - Ucluelet region's first biosphere centre project took a massive leap forward last month
cbtbiospherecentre
The Clayoquot Biosphere Trust hosted a celebration on Friday, May 17, after recieving a whopping $7.17 million boost from the federal government to help cover the costs of a $15 million plan to construct the West Coast’s first-ever biosphere centre. (Photo courtesy of the CBT)

The West Coast’s first biosphere centre project took a massive leap forward last month.

The Clayoquot Biosphere Trust announced a $7.17 million infusion from the Federal Government’s Green and Inclusive Community Buildings program on May 16.

“A tribute to all those who have worked so diligently with the CBT, First Nations and local and regional governments, over many years to strengthen community resilience and promote conservation through public education,” said Courtenay-Alberni MP Gord Johns through the announcement. “May this wonderful facility inspire generations to come and contribute to the health of our planet.”

A biosphere centre has been a long-held vision for the CBT, which purchased an 881 square-metre property at 301 Olsen Road in 2019 as the home of the future centre and went through a successful rezoning process in 2022.

“The construction of the Biosphere Centre represents a significant milestone in our collective journey towards equity and reconciliation,” said CBT executive director Rebecca Hurwitz. “Through meaningful engagement and thoughtful design, we are creating a space that reflects the diverse voices and aspirations of our communities.”

The facility is expected to cost about $15 million and, following the federal government’s $7 million addition, the CBT has now raised $9.9 million towards the project, with hopes to have construction finished in 2026.

“The Clayoquot Sound Biosphere Centre will be a valuable asset to Tofino and area in terms of reconciliation, cultural understanding, economic development, and environmental conservation,” said Minister of Energy and Natural Resources Jonathan Wilkinson on behalf of Minister of Housing, Infrastructure and Communities Sean Fraser.

“The Biosphere Centre will facilitate important programming, dialogue, and learning opportunities for local Nuu-chah-nulth peoples and other communities in the region, as well as for visitors. We will continue to invest in a brighter future for Canadians by supporting projects that encourage collaboration, innovation, and the adoption of more sustainable practices.”

The CBT heralds the future 9,400 sq. ft, net-zero facility as a dedicated space to advance sustainable development, youth empowerment, biodiversity conservation and community resilience.

“The Centre will offer immersive indoor and outdoor learning experiences tailored to diverse audiences,” the announcement reads. “Visitors and residents alike will have the opportunity to deepen their understanding of the biosphere region’s ecological and cultural significance, enjoy innovative programming, and engage in opportunities including culinary training aimed at strengthening local food security.”

It adds that the centre will also offer a shared space to local First Nations fostering community health, reconciliation, education, cultural understanding, sustainability, and economic development.

“As Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation, we’re deeply grateful for the Federal Government’s investment in the Clayoquot Sound Biosphere Centre,” said CBT Director Lorena Frank. “This milestone embodies our commitment to reconciliation and cultural preservation. Situated in our ancestral territory, the Centre will foster healing and promote understanding of our region’s cultural significance, ensuring a lasting legacy for youth and future generations.”

Anyone interested in learning more about the future facility can find more information at clayoquotbiosphere.org.

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Andrew Bailey

About the Author: Andrew Bailey

I arrived at the Westerly News as a reporter and photographer in January 2012.
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