Mission’s waterfront officially entered into a new era of eco-tourism the new Harbour River Interpretation Centre was unveiled on B.C. Day.
“The founding directors of MHA (Mission Harbour Authority) came up with the concept about 15 years ago to provide a focal point for this part of the Fraser River, and the purpose of the building is to offset the loss of employment in commercial fishing,” said harbour master Bick Benedict.
The new building is part of a $900,000 waterfront facelift centred around tourism that began earlier this year, funded from all three tiers of government.
The project included raising the dike levels, new riprap (concrete rubble used to protect shoreline erosion), benches, lighting and ramps, and construction of the new centre.
Inside the centre are information kiosks for riverboat tours, guiding fishing, and historic photographs that celebrate Mission’s river heritage.
Benedict said he’s hopeful they can acquire a float plane dock and cafe next year, adding that during the commercial fishing season the centre’s dock will sell fresh fish on site.
The new centre is the first non-municipal development in the district’s $1.4 billion 150-acre waterfront plan to develop a residential and commercial hub along the river over the next 40 years.
Most of the funding for the $314,000 building came from the federal government, with $164,000 from the West Coast Community Adjustment Program (WCCAP), administered via Community Futures North Fraser in Mission; $90,000 from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans through the Small Craft Harbours program; the remainder came from MHA.
The WCCAP is a $7-million fund to promote economic growth and job creation in B.C. coastal communities affected by declining salmon stocks.
Mayor James Atebe said the district is hoping to expand the waterfront soon with a second observation structure overlooking the Fraser from Spirit Square, though that will depend on new funding from the provincial and federal governments.