Strathcona Park Wilderness Centre at Paradise Meadows
We were involved in an exciting venture to create a complementary building for our magnificent wilderness park (the first Provincial Park in BC) at the Paradise Meadows trailhead. The SWI, the Friends of Strathcona Park and other outdoor groups worked towards this dream for over 14 years. It has been realized!
Support SWI’s Strathcona Park Wilderness Centre
Come see our facility and have a chat. Our wish is to help park visitors have a safe and enjoyable outing and to return home with the same love for the area that we have. To learn how you can help please contact us.
Rental Space Available
The SWI raises funds for programming and the costs of maintaining the building, etc., by renting (off season) either the upper floor or the larger lower floor space which includes a small kitchen (see floor plan ). An accessible washroom is available in the basement area from an outside door. The lower floor has a larger space and is ideal for ‘workshops’, school talks, outdoor club meetings, private groups, lectures, etc. (no overnight stays).
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At present, the lower room (capacity and seating for 20-30 persons) is also available for day rentals during the summer season. This room is ideal for talks, workshops, school groups, etc. and contains a screen for slide/power point presentations and seating. An electric kettle and microwave are available as well as enough plates, cups and cutlery for 30 persons.
The Story of the Centre
It all began as a dream over 14 years ago when the SWI was established and even before the Raven Lodge was built. Several meetings with local outdoor clubs, BC Parks and Mt. Washington Resort were held and the ‘visitors centre’ idea was endorsed by everyone. However, it had difficulty moving forward, because of the many questions that first needed answering e.g; where would it be positioned and who would managed it and pay the bills?, where would visitors park? and so on. At one point we discussed partnering with Mt. Washington but eventually it was decided to keep the park ‘visitors’ centre’ a completely separate public facility. Later, after the road was extended and Mt. Washington’s Raven Lodge was built, the resort and BC Parks had talks and decided to move the Paradise Meadows trailhead closer to the ‘Lodge’. This had better parking facilities and made a far more attractive entrance to the park.
During these several years of discussions and changes, the SWI managed to borrow temporary huts each year from the ski area to use as a temporary trailhead information centre. This became a regular public service and it was also a base for SWI to run their summer weekend interpretive programs.
In 2007, after more discussions with Mt. Washington Resort and local clubs, an agreement was made to give “free unfettered access” to Strathcona Park and the resort generously made a gift of the adjacent land to BC Parks (.06 hectares) which contained the new park entrance. It was also publicly agreed that this was enough space for visitors’ parking and a Strathcona Park Visitors Information Centre! Then with the fast approaching 2011 centennial of BC Parks’ — and with Strathcona Park being the very first provincial park in BC! This birthday present for Strathcona was an easy sell to the public. How do we fund raise was the big question?, for by then BC Parks’ budget had been drastically cut and visitors information buildings were no longer included. The only way this desperately needed facility was going to be materialised and operated was by Strathcona Wilderness Institute (the original proponents). The Board of Directors, after much consideration decided to go for it!
Then another gift came from Mt. Washington in 2008 when they generously offered SWI a small (16 x 20 ft.) building that was built for the ski area by the students of Highland School! This gift was accepted and was the catalyst that really began to make things happen. This gift motivated the SWI to find an architect who helped them produce a conceptual drawing that included the building gift and this inspired everyone. House designer Rob Wood, working closely with Heidema Engineering Ltd. created a perfect design for the building site.
Serious funding efforts were initiated in 2007 after a partnership was formed with BC Parks, the local Rotary Clubs, Mt. Washington Ski Resort and SWI. The Rotary Club of Campbell River, BC Parks’ and Mt. Washington had already partnered in building the new ‘Paradise Meadows Centennial Trail and Trailhead’ and a visitors’ information centre was an obvious way complete the project. With strong public support and generous donations from SWI supporters, local outdoor clubs, the Regional District, Rotary Clubs, Coastal Community Credit Union, North Vancouver Island Mines, Timber West, BC Hydro and Uplands Excavating, SWI were certainly in a strong position to apply for the government CST funds. Public support was essential for this grant and the fund-raising efforts were successful. This allowed ‘the partnership’ to contract PGH Consulting Services Ltd. who did a great job building the upper floor and deck to ‘lock-up’ before the 2008 winter really hit the building site. Work ceased at that point, until more funding was available. However, this pause in building activity was good timing and allowed SWI to actually use the (unfinished) upper floor during the 2009 summer season.
Fund-raising continued and with the support of our local M.P. John Duncan, a successful proposal was made to the Western Diversification Fund (Federal). Another proposal went to the National Trails Coalition (NTC). The latter came on board, with the help of BC Parks, who included the building in their new Paradise Meadows (‘barrier free’) loop trail (extension) proposal. This now enabled our ‘funding committee’ to justify asking CST for further matching funds to completely finish the upper floor. Better still, it allowed for finishing the basement portion, including the special ramp for wheel-chair access, in fact literally connecting the building to the trail! These extra funds even allowed for the luxury of an inside toilet and hot and cold water!
SWI are now proud to say the building (both floors) is now fully completed and ready for Strathcona Park’s 100th birthday! …a perfect gift for BC’s first provincial park.