Final funding boost for KEEPS stewardship centre

A new Kanaka Creek Watershed Stewardship Centre will feature a classroom, a resource building and roof-to-creek landscaping.

The stewardship centre now can be built thanks to a $300

The dream of the Kanaka Education and Environmental Partnership Society for a welcoming home that will teach visitors about fish, forests and nature will now become a reality.

Within months, there will be a new Kanaka Creek Watershed Stewardship Centre, featuring a classroom, a resource building and roof-to-creek landscaping at the Bell-Irving Hatchery on 256th Street in Maple Ridge.

The hatchery hosts 10,000 visitors a year and students from around Metro Vancouver so they can learn about the life-cycle of the salmon and the environment needed to sustain them.

“We’re in for a touchdown. We’re going to start [construction] this year,” said Ross Davies, with KEEPS.

“We should be operating by the fall. We have the funding now.

“Right now, we feel like a million bucks.”

The stewardship centre, a $1.1-million project, complements the new hatchery, which was built in 2013.

The stewardship centre now can be built thanks to a $300,000 donation from the estate of George Ross, a Burnaby resident who left $2.8 million to Metro Vancouver’s regional parks. The balance of $2.5 million will be put into an endowment fund to provide ongoing money for programs.

“I can’t wait for the curiosity that will be unleashed as students observe something we have collected under the microscope, note details, then head outdoors to see how it adapted to its home,” Davies said.

Fundraising has been going on for a decade, with KEEPS, Metro Vancouver and Pacific Parklands Foundation pooling their efforts.

In addition to actually watching the rearing and release of fish, the stewardship centre will showcase green building features such as managing stormwater, using natural light to minimize energy use and using sustainable building materials.

An outdoor learning area and amphitheatre will complement the building.

Other major sources of funds for the project included $600,000 from Metro Vancouver, $100,000 from the Shell FuellingChange campaign, $100,000 from the Pacific Salmon Foundation.

“It was a real team effort of raising funds,” Davies said.

He was confident that construction will start soon and be complete by the fall.

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