It took more than a decade but a new nature education centre will finally be built on the grounds of the Guelph Lake Conservation Area.
The Guelph Lake Nature Centre is expected to be open in the spring.
The board of the Grand River Conservation Authority approved the project at their meeting on Friday and is now in the tendering process.
A single-detached residential home on Conservation Road has been used as the nature centre since 1982. Chair and Guelph-Eramosa Mayor Chris White said it had outlived its usefulness.
“This particular site will be purpose-built with indoor classrooms, accessibility and proper washrooms, all the current things required under the code so it will be a nicer, newer, modern facility.”
The Guelph Lake Nature Centre offers curriculum-based, hands-on outdoor education programs.
“We have an 850-metre trail surrounded by all types of stuff outside… to learn about nature,” White said. “There will be some in-classroom work. Of course, the emphasis will be on the outdoor learning.”
Plans on the new building were first introduced in 2011. It had an original price tag of around $3 million. Since then, it went through a number of modifications including the removal of one classroom from the original design. The cost of the building is now around $1.6 million.
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“The concern would be that it would drag on longer,” said White. “It’s hard when a project goes on forever, we’d like to see the end of the tunnel. But we were going to stick with it. I was not worried that it would ever go away, it just would have taken a longer time.”
Much of the cost is being covered through fundraising. That includes a $600,000 donation from the Rotary Club of Guelph to mark their 100th anniversary in 2020. The donation will support the nature centre as well as a new astronomy program and enhancements to the Guelph Lake trail network.
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