Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Exciting plans for North Coast Ecology Society outlined for City Council Monday night

Caitlin Birdsall from the North Coast Ecology Society provided a
fast paced review of many of the Society plans for this summe
and beyond

The enthusiasm of Caitlin Birdsall for all things marine and ecology is an infectious thing, her one woman show on Monday Night updating City Council on the plans ahead for the Society one that should bring in a growing volume of volunteers to share in the journey being charted ahead.

Ms.  Birdsall took the Council membership on an audio visual tour of some of the plans moving forward this year as we all move out of COVID and into more familiar and social times.

Among some of the plans for this summer the Society wlll be using some space in the Northland Cruise Terminal for a pop up Ecology Centre, which will take place from July 21st to August 15th and will be open Five Days a week

As part of that pop up event, the exhibits will include salt water tanks, a touch tank, static displays and other elements along with interpretive educators to provide information for those who drop in to explore the event.

They will also use the event as a way to gauge the interest in a more permanent facility and what local residents will be looking towards when it comes to that development.

The long range goal for the Society was introduced to the public in 2020 and it has suffered a slowing of the pace for progress owing to COVID, but as we move back towards more familiar themes of our day to day life the plans it seems are back in motion.

Towards the plans for the permanent facility, Ms. Birdsall provided a thumbnail sketch of the vision that the Society has for the project.

"We really think that this would be a huge benefit for Prince Rupert, we think that there are three kind of main things an Ecology Centre would create. A connection points for residents to learn about nature, to steward environmental stewardship in this region as well and how it realigns well with Redesign Rupert process as it would activate and revitalize the waterfront, if we are  part mini-aquarium we must be on the waterfront and as we all know that is limited real estate so we would be looking at using something that is down there but perhaps needs a new lease on life"

She also put some focus on regional economic development and tourism aspects and noted how it could provide for Prince Rupert to be a hub for cool environmental things in the region.

In follow up comments Councillor Adey noted of the positive impressions he had from some of their past events and asked for a sense of what they would take from the upcoming  pop up event to move forward on their plans for a larger centre.

The North Coast Ecology Society has been talking with the City's
Paul Venditelli about potential use of part of the city's rental prorate
at the Canfisco warehouse for a community Ecology Centre

In reply, Ms. Birdsall noted of the importance of working with local First Nations and educators in the region, access funding for their capital requirements then securing and finding a place on the waterfront, with one potential option being that of leasing space from the city at the Canfisco Warehouse at Rushbrook, though she noted that the facility is not the only location or option that they are considering.

"Funding is always the big ticket, we do hope that for the most part that we can be self sustaining once we are operational but of course do need a lot of capital funding so we will be looking at some of the bigger funding pots, such as the Community investment fund put forth by from the Prince Rupert Port Authority ... then securing and finding the right place for us on the waterfront. 

Some of you may be aware that we have been talking with Paul and looking at potentially a corner of the Canfisco Warehouse as potential use. But I'm sure for those of you who have been in that warehouse also know it's a shell and it would definitely require a lot of infrastructure to be put in there to make it into this kind of centre ... We know that real estate is tight on the waterfront but also looking at could something floating be a possibility"

Councillor Cunningham also offered his encouragement towards their efforts, while Councillor Randhawa spoke to the opportunities for tourism.

On that theme, some of the work that the Society has engaged with Tourism Prince Rupert on was relayed with a look at the scope of some of the guidance that they have offered.

"To date we have mostly been talking with Prince Rupert Tourism ...  talking about how this might fit into their Strategic plan that they have been developing recently. Some ideas that have been discussed ...  a look at festivals and ways we could work together to bring back to life and can we create a really engaging Wildlife Festival on the North Coast that we would help partner with them on"

She also outlined some of the advice that they have offered related to tourism in the region and what visitors are looking for and what expectations there may be from them.

Councillor Niesh offered his congratulations and encouragement towards their efforts.

Councillor Cunningham also inquired about any future plans to revive the Whale Festival, Ms. Birdsall provided a snapshot of some of the challenges of timing and the recent year of COVID, with a potential return in years to come.

At the moment they are coordinating volunteer opportunities for the Pop Up event with details available through their social media options.

Mayor Brain thanked the Society for their community involvement calling on his past experience with forming a community organization for some of his commentary, the Mayor also noted of the city's willingness to lend a hand in support towards the final endeavour of the permanent facility.

You can take in her presentation from the City's Video Archive starting at the one minute mark of the nights session.

To contact the North Coast Ecology Society follow them on their Facebook page.

For more notes on Monday's Council Session see our Council Timeline Feature here.

A wider overview of past Council themes can be reviewed here.

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