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Maritime centre/tourism info merger proposed

The Maritime Heritage Society wants to merge Campbell River Tourism services, including the Visitor Centre, with the Maritime Heritage Centre.

Marv Everett, president of the Campbell River Maritime Heritage Society, says moving the Visitor Centre into the Maritime Heritage Centre will provide for a more central, and accessible, point for tourists.

“It is the opinion of the MHS Board that this proposal is a win/win for all involved, and would create a tourist focal point that will enhance tourism for the benefit of the merchants and service providers of the Campbell River area,” says Everett in a letter to Mayor Charlie Cornfield.

But Rivercorp, the city’s economic development body, says the Maritime Heritage Centre is not an appropriate location for the Visitor Centre.

“Among the board’s concerns were potential difficulties for large vehicles, like RVs, to enter and exit the Maritime Heritage Centre’s parking lot and the distance of the Maritime Heritage Centre from the centre of town,” says Ben Chalmers, Rivercorp chair, in a letter to council.

Everett disagrees and believes the society has found the perfect location.

“The Maritime Heritage Centre and public pier are located on the shores of Discovery Passage,” Everett says. “The area is therefore ideal for introducing tourists to the extensive maritime and scenic attributes of the Campbell River area. Within this setting, a comprehensive tourism facility will allow tourists to learn about the many beautiful and fascinating attractions within the Campbell River area and encourage them to spend more time here.”

Everett insists Campbell River needs a central focal point for tourists and that the current Visitor Centre, on Shopper’s Row, is “poorly located in a mall in the centre of town rather than at the entrance to town where it is highly visible to tourists entering the city.”

He accepts the current conditions around the Maritime Heritage Centre do present some challenges, such as a lack of public washrooms and an undeveloped parking area.

The Sunday Farmer’s Market also takes up a lot of space.

“Due to the space taken by vendors, parking is very limited and entrance is difficult and at times dangerous for vehicles and pedestrians,” says Everett, who along with the rest of the society, proposes reviewing the market to look for a potentially less disruptive environment, such as Tyee Plaza, that would provide more space for vendors.

The society also proposes re-engineering the entrance and exit to the parking lot for safer passage; expanding the main floor entrance area of the Maritime Heritage Centre; providing central public washrooms in the parking lot area; cleaning up the residual sewage processing facilities on site and providing illuminated signage.

“A co-operative environment and improved tourist facilities is a win/win for the city, local businesses, and the Maritime Heritage Centre, its tenants and clients,” Everett says. “Completion of the park area will clean up a trashy area of an otherwise beautiful setting, provide additional outdoor facilities for residents and provide a convenient and beautiful rest area for travellers.”

The proposal is slated for consideration and discussion by city council at its next meeting, Aug. 16.

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