Eco-tourism Interpretation Centre
Proposal at Tynehead Regional Park East
By Joseph Lin,
Planning is underway for a piece of unused land, originally set aside for
some kind of revenue-generating use, in the eastern half of Tynehead Regional Park alongside Highway One. Imagine what we could achieve if we set our goals high, aiming to develop a facility that highlights not only the regional
but also the provincial unique natural and cultural heritages. This vision is a sharp contrast to the decline of traditional natural resource industries but is in accord with the rapid growth of ecotourism; the potential for
this initiative is tremendous.
I believe that this project will be the best oppotunity for us with the best timing (surging eco-tourism and funding for 2010 Winter Olympics), the best location (the only regional park alongside Highway One, the future demographical cetre of GVRD in Surrey), and especially
our best vision (Building a Sustainable Region), best GVRD team (including Chair of GVRD Board Marvin Hunt, CAO of GVRD Johnny Carline, Manager of GVRD parks Ed Angrusiak, and Division Manage of Parks Visitor Services Stephen
Suddes), and best stewardship with all regional Park Partnership Associations.
Ecotourism can potentially maintain local cultural integrity, essential ecological processes, biological diversity and life support
systems while incur environmental, socio-cultural, and economic interrelated benefits to the communities involved. Ecotourism, as a special segment of nature tourism, emphasizes the conservation of natural and cultural heritages and
promotes the well beings of local communities. While the overall tourism has been growing at a rate of approximately 4 percent annually in Canada, nature tourism has been growing at a rate of between 10 and 30 percent.
Ecotourism, if conscientiously developed and properly guided, can meet the needs of both tourists and locals while securing and enhancing opportunities and options for the future generations.
The establishment of a
Eco-tourism Interpretation Centre
at Tynehead Regional Park East would promote the development of ecotourism industry in the Greater Vancouver and British Columbia. Ideally situated next to Trans-Canada Highway through which the vast majority of tourists from western North America and Asia enter British Columbia,
the centre would be the tourism gateway to the Greater Vancouver, British Columbia and Canada.
The financial benefits the centre will provide to GVRD include the following:
1. Revenues from the entry fee to the centre that serves as a local landmark and tourist attraction.
2. Revenues from lengthening the duration of stay and increased visits to additional areas by visiting tourists.
Promotion of investment opportunities by publicizing various economic sectors such as business, agriculture, manufacture industries, forestry, fisheries, mining and other natural resources.
The additional strengths of the centre include the following:
1. The centre serves national and international visitors with diverse interests.
2. This centre provides education services that foster in our children,
students, and citizen interests to and a love for our natural and cultural heritages and a sense of responsibilities, encouraging all to participate in stewardships at various levels.
3. The information and services the centre provides meet the ongoing needs of visitors and locals, promoting healthy ways of life and well beings.
4. The centre will be established in time to serve the surging needs of tourists and visitors coming for the 2010 Winter Olympics.
5. The establishment of the centre will be a timely investment venue for three level governments, private and business sectors.
The centre will provide information and educate tourists on our natural and cultural heritages,
publicize current events and programs, and serve as an education/outreach centre for both local and tourists. Specially, the centre would make available the following information to incoming tourists:
1. Information on our natural environments
including different ecosystems, watersheds, geology, unique plants and animals in the province, local naturalist organizations, conservation initiatives, nature events and ongoing/ current education programs. Additional information such as maps, interpretation brochure, trail and park guides, and magazines would be available for visitors.
2. Socio-cultural information including aboriginal, first nations, explorers, immigrants, museum, historic sites, historic landmarks, heritage and cultural organizations, population statistics, farming, ranching,
forestry, fishery, mining industries, art galleries, artist studios, and current cultural events.
3. Information on accommodation and recreation
including hotels, campgrounds, RV parks, restaurants, transportation, boating, kayaking, rafting, horseback riding, fishing, hunting, back country hiking, travel agencies, and relevant current community events.
General tourism information
including eco-tour packages, public transits, unique viewpoints, city, regional, provincial and national parks, ecological reserves, wildlife viewing areas, BC Hydro recreation areas, BC Travel information centres, and BCAA office.
The architecture of the centre should be a landmark as well as a tourist attraction in its own right. The facilities should be environmentally friendly. The centre will include a large screen theatre and provides
hand-on, interactive activities that attract and educate children and adults alike. A three-dimensional landscape model would depict the topography and local highlights, supplemented by photos of natural and historical sites,
automated slide and video presentations.
The centre will play a role in GVRD parallel to that of the visitor centres of Mt. St. Helene*s Volcanic National Monument in the State of Washington. As well, this
centre can serve similar educational and entertaining functions as Science World and Aquarium in Vancouver.
The centre will comprise six ecotourism sections: Lower Mainland, Coastal Mountain, Coastal Marine, Thompson &
Canadian Rockies, Okanagan & BC Rockies, Central & Northern BC. These sections are presented hierarchically, at scales moving from provincial to municipal, and provide different spatial perspectives from which to understand
the complex environment of British Columbia.
Lower Mainland eco-tourism Section
could be sponsored by Greater Vancouver Regional District and Fraser Valley municipals, and operated by GVRD Parks East Office. It would introduce Burrard Inlet, Fraser Estuary, Boundary Bay, South Fraser Valley eco-systems and urban development history, which mostly are along Highway 1, 7, 10, 91, & 99. The landscape model would show watersheds, beautiful municipal parks and gardens, GVRD regional parks, watersheds, nature reserves, provincial parks and National historic Sites. It will provide information especially including art galleries, museums, theaters, cultural centres, historic houses, heritage trees, marina and quays, ski areas, farming, salmon fisheries.
Coastal Mountain eco-tourism Section
could be sponsored by Whistler, Squamish, and BC Rail and operated by BC Tourism. It would introduce Squamish, Cheakamus, Green, Lillooet watersheds, lower Fraser Canyon, and North Fraser Valley, which mostly are along Highway 1, 99, 12, & 7. It will provide information especially including rock climbing, windsurfing, BC Rail, Brackendale Eagle Preserve, falls, backcountry hiking, boating, horseback riding.
Coastal Marine eco-tourism Section
could be sponsored by Sunshine Coast, Greater Victoria regional District and operated by BC Tourism. It would introduce marine biology, salmon fishery, coastal rainforest, Garry Oak eco-system and marine exploring history, which including Sunshine Coast, Gulf Islands, Vancouver Island, central coast and Queen Charlotte Island areas, which mostly are along Highway 1, 101, 19, 4, 28, 17, 14, & 16. It will provide information especially including forestry tours, Pacific Rim and Gulf Island National Park, ferry, cruise, whale watching, west coast trail hiking, kayaking, salmon fishing, diving.
Thompson & Canadian Rockies eco-tourism Section
could be sponsored by Kamloops, Revelstoke, Banff, Jasper, and CPR corporations, Federal and BC provincial Government and operated by BC tourism. It would introduce Thompson Watershed, Columbia Mountain, and Rocky Mountains, which mostly are along Highway 1, 5, 16, & 93. It will provide information especially comprising Merritt (Nicola Watershed), Kamloops, Adams River and Shuswap Lake Watershed, Revelstoke, Glacier, Yoho, Banff & Jasper National Parks, Mount Robson, Wells Gray Provincial Park.
Okanagan & BC Rockies eco-tourism section
could be sponsored and funded by Kelowna, Vernon, Nelson, Radium Hot Springs corporations and BC provincial Government, and operated by BC tourism. This section would comprise watersheds including the Okanagan Lake, Columbia River, Kootenay Lake, which mostly are along Highway 1, 3, 5A, 97C, 97, 6, 3A, 95, & 93. It will provide information especially including freshwater fishing, boating, rafting, horseback riding, ranch tour, mining tour, historic landmarks, BC ecological reserves and BC wildlife viewing areas.
Central & Northern BC eco-tourism Section
could be sponsored by 100 Miles House, Williams Lake, Quesnel, Prince George, Fort St. John, Prince Rupert corporations and BC provincial Government and operated by BC tourism. It would introduce Upper Fraser, Cariboo-Chilcotin Interior Plateau, and northern BC areas, which mostly are along Highway 1, 97, 16, & 37. It will provide information especially comprising Fraser Canyon, Gold Rush Trail, forestry tours, aboriginal culture sites.
In addition, there would be a shop at the centre that sells posters, cards, nature, culture and historic books, gifts. As well, the shop can provide information such as a site model and local research/restoration
projects and stewardship initiatives.
Community volunteers and organizations are expected to play important roles in the establishment and the ongoing maintenance of the Eco-tourism Interpretation Centre.
The benefits will be long lasting, and belong to not only Surrey and the Greater Vancouver area, but also BC, Canada and generations to come.
is the president of the Green Club, publisher of the Green Cultural E-newsletter, a member of the GVRD Regional Parks Forum, and an
Eco-tourism guide. If you are interested to find out more about this environment educational organization, check out their Green Culture Website at http://www.greenclub.bc.ca . What are your thoughts on Joseph*s proposal ? Send a letter to Joseph*s email.