Dan MacLennan, Campbell River Courier-Islander
Published: Friday, June 29, 2012
A Campbell River waterfront aquarium came one step closer to reality after gaining support from the city Tuesday night.
City councillors directed staff to work with the Discovery Passage SeaLife Society to find a suitable waterfront location for the 16′ x 48′ aquarium structure, the former Ucluelet Aquarium which the society recently purchased with a donation from the Noon Rotary Club.
“Discovery Passage is known as one of the best diving locations in the world,” SeaLife Society director Sandra Milligan told council. “A public aquarium allows us to bring that world-renowned asset to the surface for everyone to enjoy. Of course, this would be a huge economic stimulus to bring visitors to the downtown area.”
Milligan said the Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre in Sidney drew 200,000 visitors in 18 months and is now the third most popular tourist location on Vancouver Island. She estimated the new aquarium could boast 10,000 visits per year, adding more than $660,000 to the Campbell River economy.
“People love aquariums,” she said. The aquarium would also be an education/research resource for local schools, North Island College and the BC Centre for Aquatic Health Sciences, she said.
Potential downtown locations under consideration could include the city’s 3.5 acre waterfront site, Robert Ostler Park, the Maritime Heritage Centre/Discovery Pier area, or a floating location.
Milligan said the society would maintain and run the aquarium with volunteers and paid staff with revenue from entrance fees, sponsorships and donations.