Infocentre design and builders unveiled

The new visitor infocentre
The new visitor infocentre's design will be based on a farmhouse look,
— image credit: courtesy Duncan-Cowichan Chamber of Commerce

Duncan-Cowichan Chamber of Commerce’s Mark Moore rolled out big news this week Cobble Hill’s Pacific Homes has been handed over the contract for the chamber’s new visitor centre.

The chamber held an information presentation Thursday at the Quamichan Inn to unveil the contractors, as well as fresh design plans.

“We’re excited to announce that we’re going with Pacific Homes and the Pacific Building group and the McKinnon family,” project manager Moore said

Moore’s tickled pink the McKinnons are working on the project slated for either a spring or fall start, depending on money coming in and other factors including mindfulness of the B.C. Forest Discovery Centre’s seasonal business.

“This is really neat. It was Grant’s dad (Ken McKinnon) that started the McKinnon group of businesses, that started with the hardware store in 1959 and now with the various manufacturing facilities and Rona stores; and it’s a wonderful story about a regional family that’s been entrepreneurs and had a long standing presence in the valley. It kind of gives you warm fuzzy feeling.”

McKinnon presented chamber folks with pictures of the building and its floor plans.

Chamber members are pumped about the building’s design layout, which will mimic a traditional, two-storey framed farmhouse with a wrap-around porch.

That style came after the chamber was told by Island Coastal Economic Trust, which is chipping in $744,000 contingent on the chamber arranging matching funding, the days of the “traditional visitor centre, roadside kiosk, handing out brochures, are gone,” Moore explained.

“They suggested we build into the building a thematic element that best represents the Cowichan region.”

So they went knocking on Economic Development manager Geoff Millar’s door.

He said what he’s noticed creates the most interest in Cowichan from afar is its viticulture and small farm agriculture.

“So we decided to design the building around the Cowichan region, so that we could invite people to stop and sit on the porch and just enjoy the atmosphere.”

Moore said eco-elements are still in the works as is the final price tag on construction of the building at the Drinkwater Road-Island Highway corner — in B.C. Forest Discovery Centre’s parking lot.

The Rotary Club of Duncan has tossed in $100,000 worth of cash and in-kind donations into developing parkland around the new centre that’s replacing the current infocentre beside the B.C. Liquor Store in Duncan’s Coronation Mall.

The 3,000-square-foot, farmhouse building will have visitor and business centre areas as well as a displays and demonstrations room.

Partners include North Cowichan taxpayers, who’ve donated centre land valued at $650,000, plus $325,000 in cash, the Cowichan Valley Regional District and its $150,000 from its $4.1-million gas-tax purse, as well as Duncan council, who’s committed some $51,000 along with City taxpayers putting out about $33,000 in annual operating funds.

The chamber has raised $60,000 at its Gourmet Galas.

It received five other business proposals but decided on the McKinnons because of their “amazing design abilities.”

The building will take about four months once ground’s been broken, Moore added.

“We’re still finalizing details, and we’re anticipating assistance from Pacific Homes and sub trades and that sort of thing but that’s yet to be negotiated.”

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