The Castlegar and District Chamber of Commerce has received a grant to help cover some of the costs for the visitor centre portion of their new tourism and economic development hub building.
The $4.8 million, 7000 square-foot building will house the Visitor Centre, Economic Development office, Destination Castlegar and a satellite branch of Community Futures. It will also include co-working spaces and a large collective space for community events or gatherings, tech charging stations and office spaces for rent. It will also be accessible for public use.
The province, through the Kootenay Rockies Tourism Association, has provided $200,000 for amenities for the Visitor Centre.
Chamber executive director Tammy Verigin-Burk says the Castlegar Visitor Centre is an important focal point for tourism across the Kootenays and Okanagan as many people passing through intend on travelling on to other destinations.
“Being in that central location, it is pivotal for us to have a centre that is functioning, beautiful and iconic,” says Verigin-Burk.
The Visitor Centre will be located at the main entrance of the building and is designed to be a place where people can congregate indoors for things such as raffle ticket sales or simply charging their phones in addition to the usual visitor inquiry space. The space will also feature interpretive stations that can be used by everyone from historical presenters to adventure tourism operators.
When you step into a visitor centre, you expect to see racks of maps and pamphlets. At the new centre, those will all be placed in racks on rollers that can be relocated in order to utilize the multi-function capabilities of the space when needed.
Verigin-Burk says they are designing the building to be progressive, interactive and accessible.
“It is going to be a place where people want to be,” she said.
The building will feature locally-produced mass timber throughout, including raised ceilings that will highlight the product.
Construction is expected to begin in June 2022.
The chamber is non-profit society that operates independently from the City of Castlegar. All funding for the building will come through fundraising and grants, not through local taxation.
In addition to the tourism grant, the Province of B.C. has contributed $924,000 and the federal government has contributed $1.4 million to the project.