Desert Society releases conceptual drawing for $2 million centre

By on August 13, 2014
A conceptual drawing shows a possible design for a future building at the Osoyoos Desert Centre.

A conceptual drawing shows a possible design for a future building at the Osoyoos Desert Centre.

A conceptual drawing for a new building at the Osoyoos Desert Centre has been released, but for the moment it is still a dream.

“It’s been our dream to build a centre for some time,” said Lee McFadyen, president of the Osoyoos Desert Society’s board of directors.

“To know what we’re actually dealing with, it’s a good idea to put together a conceptual drawing that we could present to the public. It’s something that people can relate to. At this point this is our wish list, it is our dream, but you don’t ever realize a dream unless you start somewhere, so this is the beginning.”

The building could cost around $2 million, McFadyen said, cautioning that the society has not yet been actively fundraising for it and that it’s much too premature to discuss when construction might start.

A conceptual drawing was on display Saturday evening when the Desert Society held its annual Romancing the Desert fundraiser, but there was no formal announcement.

Currently indoor exhibits at the centre are housed in old mobile buildings that don’t properly preserve them.

“The trailers are way past their best before date and there is a real need to replace them,” said McFadyen. “They were old when they were brought on site and we’re continually maintaining them, making sure that wiring is safe. They are not the best buildings for the exhibits. The exhibits last longer and last better when they are properly humidity controlled.”

The roof has required repairs to keep it from leaking and mice get into the trailers, McFadyen said.

The Osoyoos Desert Centre introduces visitors to the antelope brush arid habitat including the plants and animals that live there. Visitors can follow a 1.5 km boardwalk around the property.

It is one of the main Osoyoos tourist attractions, last year drawing 6,730 visitors and reaching a peak of 8,097 visitors in 2005.

The centre is currently only open from late April to early October, although the society runs a winter lecture series at the Watermark Beach Resort.

McFadyen believes the new building could help to attract more visitors because it would be more visually appealing on a website and because it would allow the society to be more adventurous with its exhibits.

More winter programming could be held at the site, she suggests.

“When we finally do reach the point where we can build, which might be some time away, we hope to build into the site and make it blend in with the natural landscape rather than having it sitting on top,” McFadyen said.

For now, however, fundraising by the society is directed at maintaining the site for antelope brush and the species that live there, she said.

One project that has gone ahead is new interpretive signage that is being added to displays along the boardwalk.

“They needed redesigning and they were fading,” said McFadyen. “Effective signage is very important. It helps people to understand the importance of that vanishing ecosystem and the importance of the work that the Desert Society is doing.”

RICHARD McGUIRE

Osoyoos Times

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