What was originally floated as a single nature interpretive centre focused on the local ecology has now blossomed into a plan for a set of sites, each one emphasizing a different element of the city's natural abundance.
Stakeholder groups have together been addressing the creation of a nature/outdoor centre for Prince George. About 20 people attend the meetings, each one representing a different association or department with an interest in the great outdoors. Chairing the meetings is the City of Prince George's Dan Adamson.
"The early days the idea was clearly all about one visually attractive headquarters to be an icon for outdoor education and recreation in our city," he said, "but around the table we soon recognized that there were a number of places already touching on these things, and a pretty wide landscape we were dealing with. We have a proposal to upgrade the wetland area around Hudson's Bay Slough, which is right in the neighbourhood of Exploration Place, so could we partner with them on wetland interpretation? We have the Greenway Trail System and Forests For the World which has UNBC right there too, so could UNBC be involved with some interpretive opportunities? We have the Spruce City Wildlife Association's hatchery facility on the trail system along the Nechako, we have the Railways and Forestry Museum at Cottonwood Island Park. Is it possible to really maximize our opportunities if we involve these facilities and partner them with our goals?"
The momentum for the interpretive services was started by the Prince George Naturalist Club's early attempts to make a wetland attraction out of Hudson's Bay Slough. That project is gaining energy as well.
Adamson said the need was evident to set up a clear structure for group efforts into the future.
"How do you create some visual identity? How do you define roles?" Adamson explained. "We had a good discussion led by Pat Maher, and he's now got a focus group trying to establish the vision for branding and marketing purposes - who we are and what we're about - and to perhaps formalize the group under the society's act. We are also looking at some planning, get some advise and long term thinking about how this multi-site context could work. We are also thinking about additional areas and making sure we're not leaving anything out."
The nature centre group is scheduled to meet again in April. A separate meeting will be held on March 14 at 7 p.m. at the BC Parks building (4051-18th Avenue) and the Prince George Naturalist Club meets on March 28 for their Annual General Meeting, featuring a Gadget Night for all who attend. The AGM will be held at the BC Parks Building at 7 p.m. that evening.