The total economic output generated by the project was $7 million during the construction phase.
With no formal visitor centre facilities on the highway north of the Departure Bay ferry terminal, the region had long identified an opportunity for a strategic gateway visitor centre in the Comox Valley. The vision was to create a multi-use centre which would not only meet the needs of visitors but would act as a showcase facility for the region’s businesses, industries and communities.
The Vancouver Island Discovery Centre project partnered with local organizations and businesses to create a unique facility capturing the spirit of the region. Located near the turn-off of the Inland Island Highway, the attractive, multi-use facility displays local materials and craftsmanship with a signature west-coast style of architecture. The centre’s distinctive architectural feature, the drum, houses a multi-media exhibit gallery that promotes the area’s tourism, cultural and heritage product and experiences, and includes stories, displays and interactive exhibits. The centre features state of the art visitor services such as high definition screens featuring regional assets and amenities, free WiFi and computer stations as well as booking services offering visitors a one-stop shop for booking and information gathering. The facility’s unique interior design and multi-media conference room support hosting of training and special events. The site also features ample parking, BBQ and picnic area, children’s play area, dog walk area and outdoor exhibits.
The Vancouver Island Discovery Centre team has been actively working with regional adventure operators, tour guides, accommodation and food service providers to develop products that will be sold through the centre, encouraging greater collaboration with industry. These value-added services encourage travelers to extend their stay the region and inspires return visits to the region. The centre, completed in 2012, also serves to promote regional industry, business and resident attraction to the area.