Sometimes things just make a lot of sense.
I was intrigued by the proposal to merge the Visitor Centre and the Maritime Heritage Centre (MHC).
You have two adjacent facilities that are among Campbell River’s biggest tourism draws and you have a proposal to move the tourism promotion function – primarily the Visitor Centre – into one of those two facilities.
The Maritime Heritage Society (MHS) board wants to create a tourism focal point by moving the Visitor Centre into the MHC. As Kristen Douglas reported Wednesday, the president of the MHS, Marv Everett, says moving the Visitor Centre into the MHC will provide for a more central and accessible point for tourists.
There’s a certain synergy that would be created because both facilities would support each other. Visitors seeking information would take a few minutes to visit the MHC and wander out onto the Discovery Pier. Makes a lot of sense to me. As it is now, the Visitor InfoCentre is connected to the Art Gallery and there certainly would be a loss of spillover traffic into the exhibits and gift store in the gallery. I wonder if the gallery could use the whole building vacated by the InfoCentre? Then there’s the loss of traffic into the Tyee Plaza which I’m sure would be missed. It’s certainly a plan that is not without impact on other parts of the downtown. But on the other hand, the Tyee Plaza is benefitting from the Spirit Square and the great job Jim Creighton is doing to make that a lively focal point of downtown. So, maybe they could give up a little something.
Now, there is some challenges with diverting tourists to the MHC/Discovery Pier. One of the biggest being trying to get huge RVs into the parking lot there. The lot’s plenty big enough it’s just turning off the Old Island Highway into it that would be a challenge. Although, I’m sure it could be widened to accommodate them.
There’s also the Sunday morning Farmer’s Market which Everett has proposed could be moved from the MHC to the Tyee Plaza where there’s actually more room. Everybody knows that the MHC parking lot fills up pretty quick and that parking spills out along the Island Highway’s Pier St. area. Which brings up another issue. The Farmer’s Market was started by the Pier St. merchants to attract people to their area, of course. Losing them to the Tyee Plaza area would probably not be popular. Conversely, though, they would get all that tourist traffic that theoretically goes to the Shoppers Row/Tyee Plaza area.
Although, I wonder how much spill off there is from tourists visiting the Visitor Centre and the adjacent shops. I could see visitors deciding to wander onto the pier once they’re out of their RVs (it might be kind of nerve-wracking pulling in there so they won’t be in a rush to get back in their motorhomes to drive out).
Alistair Taylor is editor of the Campbell River Mirror.