Tuesday, June 30, 2009

New BC Visitor Centre opens @ Peace Arch

While driving up to the BC Ferries at Tsawwassen yesterday, it was fun to see that the new British Columbia Visitor Centre @ Peace Arch had finally opened. Well, it was too early, so the doors weren't yet open for the day. But the $4.6 million visitor centre officially opened in April of 2009, with Premier Gordon Campbell ceremoniously cutting the ribbon.

Approximately three million vehicles pass through the Peace Arch border between BC and Washington state each year. With more than 250,000 visitors expected for the 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games, BC is putting out the welcome mat. The centre was funded by Tourism BC.

According to website of the BC Liberals, the design was inspired by a Semiahmoo First Nations winter dwelling, with a Great Hall supported by local Douglas Fir columns. The layout of the building mimics the twisting Fraser River and from the air, the footprint of the building looks like one of BC's Gulf Islands.

The former visitor centre was a trailer.

Across the way from the centre are new restrooms, landscaping and the nearby duty free shop -- but there is still construction going on at the border crossing between Canada and the U.S. One of the quirky things about the new centre is the use of "@" instead of "at" in the signage. Casual and unusual to say the least.

Photo by Sue Frause