The Bentley Family Hall seats 160.

The Bentley Family Hall seats 160.

Loon Lake upgrade project nearly complete

The new Bentley Family Hall cost $2.7 million, raised through donations.

A dozen-year multi-million-dollar capital upgrade is mostly complete at the Loon Lake Lodge and Retreat Centre, setting it up for the next half century.

The latest project was the completion of the new Bentley Family Hall, a 160-seat dining room made out of timbers harvested on site in the UBC Malcolm Knapp Research Forest, at the north end of 232nd Street. The hall’s grand opening took place Oct. 1.

The building is 6,800-sq. feet in area and was designed by local architect Wayne Bissky and makes extensive use of daylight to light the interior.

“So it’s double the size of the old hall we had before,” explained Paul Lawson, director of the UBC Research Forest.

The new Bentley Family Hall cost $2.7 million, raised through donations.

Overall, in the last dozen years, the UBC Malcolm Knapp Research Forest has spent $12 million to upgrade the entire centre, which in the summer becomes Camp Goodtimes, operated by the Canadian Cancer Society. The camp offers a fun break for kids fighting cancer.

The rest of the year, various parts of the centre are rented out by church and youth groups or by corporations for retreats, with about 20,000 overnight stays annually.

Some of the donations for the new hall came from the Canadian Cancer Society, while the balance came from UBC forestry alumni.

“There was no government money that went into it. It was all private donations,” said Lawson.

“The sick children, particularly the children with cancer, has been a huge motive for the donors to get involved.”

More recently, the centre has offered programs for arthritis sufferers or kids who have eating disorders.

“The health and wellness aspect of what’s going on up there has been the biggest interest of the donors,” Lawson said.

The rebuilding began in 2004, with the student centre being replaced in 2005.

“We finished the Walter C. Koerner Forestry Centre [accommodations] in 2006 and the Johnson Cabins in 2009 and now this one in 2015.”

Loon Lake was originally built in 1949 to house UBC’s Faculty of Forestry field camps.

In 2003, the UBC Research Forest, which operates Loon Lake, signed an agreement with the Canadian Cancer Society, designating Loon Lake as the home of Camp Goodtimes.

The agreement allowed for much of the upgrading at the centre.

“Now we’ve done our dining hall and kitchen – our main dining hall and kitchen.”

Much of the wood came from UBC’s own mill but Cedarland Forest Products, Andersen Pacific Forest Products, Canfor and Western Forest Products all donated material.

“Twelve years is a long time. It’s been very rewarding. Now it feels like we’re done building up there, which is a great place to be,” Lawson said.