Why get excited because Thompson Rivers University has developed plans for a new education and research facility for Wells Gray Park?
Plenty of things happened on Saturday, Sept. 10, what with the Clearwater Canoe Regatta at Dutch Lake and the Wells Gray Day event in Upper Clearwater. However, possibly the one with the most long-term significance (and, unfortunately, one that might have got overlooked), was an announcement by TRU Dean of Science Dr. Tom Dickenson that the university had picked a design for an upgraded field station for Upper Clearwater.
A competition had been held for the design of the proposed facility and Blake St. Edwards, a student in the Faculty of Architecture and Engineering Technology, won it.
The TRU Construction Trades program is expected to play a lead role in building the new facility.
What’s the big deal?
We often hear that we are in the midst of an Information Revolution, comparable in many ways to the Industrial Revolution of two hundred years ago.
What do we have to attract information-based industry to this area?
Wells Gray Park has to be a big part of the answer. It has a number of unique characteristics, including its large size, its being defined by the watershed of the Clearwater River headwaters, its long volcanic history, and the wide variety of ecosystems within it and nearby.
Having an education and research center next to the park is one way to take advantage of those unique characteristics. Scientists already come from all over the world to conduct research in Wells Gray Park (thanks largely to the efforts of TRU and Upper Clearwater resident Trevor Goward). Students travel here to learn what those scientists have discovered.
Goward has recently announced that he intends to bequeath his home and property to The Nature Conservancy. Other work is being done to add more land to his gift to create a wildlife corridor. In addition, the quest to gain UNESCO World Heritage status for the volcanoes of Wells Gray Park and area is gaining momentum.
There is a synergy developing and it is becoming painfully clear that the present configuration of the Wells Gray Education and Research Center is no longer adequate.
Close to 1,200 user-days per year are recorded at the center, despite its relatively primitive conditions.
The time has come to expand and improve the field station so it can begin to achieve its true potential. Local residents should support TRU in this endeavour.