The Brant Viewing Area in Qualicum Beach will be closed temporarily for construction to repurpose the area.
David James, Qualicum Beach Streamkeepers president, said the clearing of the site begins on Monday (March 5), and they plan to have the new facility open by April 22 — Earth Day. The closure is part of an upgrade to the viewing area which will also be a memorial for longtime environmentalist Faye Smith.
Smith, a co-founder of the Qualicum Beach Streamkeepers, passed away in March of 2017.
The new site will include: replacing the current platform with a new roofed structure; recognition of Qualicum First Nation traditional territory and history; adding pictorial signage about the panoramic view, the intertidal ecology, and the bird species and other wildlife; telling the stories of wild salmon in nearby Grandon Creek and of the Parksville Qualicum Beach Wildlife Management Area; and enhancing the site with native vegetation.
“It’s going to be a complete interpretive site,” James said.
Plans for an upgrade to the viewing area began in early 2017, streamkeepers’ secretary Pat Jacobson previously told town council.
At the Jan. 8 council meeting, Qualicum Beach council approved staff to allocate matching funding “to support the completion of the Faye Smith Memorial and Brant Viewing Area improvements, as proposed by Qualicum Beach Streamkeepers… up to a maximum of $100,000.”
James said the streamkeeps have raised almost $90,000 of their share for the structure and signage and the town will be overseeing the landscaping. At the end of the project, James said, the streamkeepers will transfer the building to the town as it’s on town-owned land.
The project is considered valuable enough that the streamkeepers even coaxed money from the City of Parksville.
“Just like fish don’t know boundaries, Faye didn’t know boundaries, either,” said Pat Jacobson, who appeared with Peter Drummond as a delegation before Parksville city council at its meeting on Feb. 5.
Following the presentation, in which the pair described the project and its benefits to tourism and education in the region, Coun. Sue Powell made a motion that $2,500 be contributed from council’s contingency funds.
“When I was first listening I thought, ‘Why should we contribute to Qualicum Beach?” Coun. Kim Burden said. “But your presentation has convinced me this is something of benefit to the whole region.”
The motion passed unanimously.
The streamkeepers are working with the Town of Qualicum Beach, Arrowsmith Naturalists and friends and family of Smith to complete the project.
The Brant Viewing Area will remain closed until the completion of the project. The Brant Wildlife Festival, which has used the viewing area, runs March 19 to April 28. The area just to the east of the closed viewing platform, James said, will still be available for use during the festival.
— with files from J.R. Rardon