Heritage centre construction coming along

  • Dec. 8, 2005 11:00 a.m.

The new, world-class, $20-million plus heritage centre is taking shape at Second Beach, Skdiegate with at least 40 different workers and trades people hammering away at the project.
Roofers, electricians, sprinkler fitters, plumbers and more are all on the site piecing the buildings together.
Nine of the eleven buildings at the centre are fully-erected with only the all-glass Welcome House (the future entrance) and the Lecture House to be built.
The future Parks office is the furthest along, said Bob York of Grand Construction, the general contractor for the job. The drywall installation is well underway and the painting and cabinets are next.
“It’s all coming together as planned,” Mr. York says, adding that he expects to complete the construction portion of the project by Spring 2006.
Once the centre is complete, visitors will be able to walk from the museum to the totem gallery and through the series of buildings without once walking outside, he said.
Some of the materials being used include 90 tonnes of rock flooring tiles from Idaho, manufactured lumber trusses, and 4 x 18 foot plywood sheets weighing 400 pounds each. There are 17 furnaces in the facility, which will use a combination of electrical and geothermal energy. The geothermal pipes will run the length of the large parking lot.
Arthur Pearson of Skidegate milled the huge round cedar columns and the massive facia boards – 4 feet wide, 10 inches thick and 32 feet long.
“He is an excellent sawyer,” says Mr. York.
Mr. York estimates at least 75-percent of the workforce is made up of island residents, but some specialty trades people have been brought in.
Still to come is the massive wood deck, which will front many of the buildings, and what is known as a green roofing system for the flat-topped buildings.
Mr. York says the earth and moss covered roof will soak up moisture and release the water slowly by way of rain chains rather than gutters.
Another interesting feature is the 26 foot high, 14 foot wide open fireplace at the back of the carving shed. Mr. York says it acts as a storm anchor for the shed, which is not meant to have walls. The Lecture Hall will also have a place for fires, but here the fire will be built in the centre of the floor with no fireplace.
The exhibit designers, David Jensen and Associates, will have the run of the centre once construction is complete.
Heritage Centre Society CEO Robert Dudoward said the organizational plans are coming together for the centre as well.
The operational planning committee members are writing job descriptions and building a training plan, so there’ll be trained local personnel to run the facility. Mr. Dudoward says the centre will support 40 full-time equivalent positions. Although they are not specifically recruiting yet, he said they are taking expressions of interest from people looking to fill positions ranging from maintenance, accounting, fundraising, customer service, marketing, educational, janitorial and more.
The Skidegate Band Council is working with Human Resources Development Canada and the Skeena Native Development Society to develop appropriate training opportunities.
As for operational funding, Mr. Dudoward says admissions will off-set some of the yearly costs, but ideally the society will have a large endowment fund in place.
“We are looking for major gifts from people willing to commit to the heritage and cultural aspects of Qay’llnagaay,” he says.
He has recently been given the mandate to fill the facility with exhibits by the spring 2007 grand opening, which could mean an extra $3.3 million needed, boosting the project budget to $24-million. The previous plan was to fill the buildings in stages.
Bob Haldorson, the Clerk of the Works says they hope to offer tours to members of the public and to school groups in the near future.
“It’s an exciting project. People drive by and see it, they are getting so used to it, but they need to understand what’s going on,” he said.
He really wants school children to get involved, because they are the ones who will be looking after the centre in the future.
“It’s their building too. They should be part of the construction phase,” Mr. Haldorson said.
Public tours will be held on the weekends, and interested parties must register to participate. More information will be coming soon on this.