Vivian ChuiOmineca Express
Vanderhoof’s visitor centre is looking for a new home.
Currently situated north of the railway tracks on Burrard Ave., the information centre — operated by the Vanderhoof Chamber of Commerce — can increase its number of visitors with a location on Highway 16, said the chamber’s executive director Spencer Siemens.
He provides the example of Houston, a smaller community than Vanderhoof, that has welcomed more visitors to its information centre on the highway.
“They get between 10,000 to 15,000 visitors that come to their visitor centre in a year, here in Vanderhoof we only get between 5,000 to 6,000 a year,” he said. “It’s a bit of inconvenience for tourists driving through town to turn off the highway across the train tracks and come into our office.”
With Vanderhoof located just one hour west of Prince George for drivers, a more convenient location for the visitor centre can attract more travelers to stop, said Joe von Doellen, the chamber’s president.
“Most people have done a major activity in Prince George,” von Doellen said, adding that an on-highway location close to most gas bars and other tourism attractions such as Vanderhoof’s Heritage Museum can provide ease of access.
“What’s happening across the tourism centre is not what they want to sell to visitors.”
Tom Clement, the District’s Chief Administrative Officer, agreed that relocating the centre to the museum grounds makes sense, though it is undecided by council at the moment.
“There’s a logical connection to the museum and the visitor centre and the Chamber of Commerce,” Clement said. “The biggest challenge is to have the money.”
He said a new building will house the centre between the Royal Bank and O.K. Cafe. on the museum grounds, and it is also an opportunity for the historic village site to grow.
Currently searching for funding, and after a strategy meeting with the Nechako Valley Historical Society and Vanderhoof Chamber of Commerce on Oct. 15, the district council hopes to start the relocation process by next year and conduct a town hall meeting with a vision for the centre, Clement said.
“Council sees it as a community asset,” he said. “It’s important for the community.”