Province funds new tourist centre in Masset

  • Aug. 27, 2007 8:00 a.m.

Visitors to Masset will soon be welcomed by a new information centre, thanks to a $272,000 grant to the village from the provincial government. Tourism Minister Stan Hagen was in Masset Monday morning (Aug. 27) to make the funding announcement and hand over a cheque to mayor Barry Pages. “I am really pleased to be here today,” said Mr. Hagen, who took time out from a holiday for the announcement. “This is where you’re going to catch the tourists as they come in.” The minister said Masset is becoming a prime vacation spot, with some of the best sportsfishing in the world as well as the rich Haida culture. Masset residents have been starting up businesses to cater to tourists, he said, and the larger info centre will help showcase what the area has to offer. “I think we’ve got a bright future,” Mr. Pages agreed. “We’ve been getting by with this little closet, and we’re looking forward to upgrading that.” The new centre will be built on the same site as the existing information booth, a tiny, bright blue building across the highway from the seaplane base and village marina. Mr. Pages said the new building, to be built of cedar, will have room to sell local art and other products. Mr. Hagen took one look at the pothole-riddled road in front of the info booth and said he will try to find more money as soon as he returns to Victoria so it can be paved in the next week or so, while Adventure Paving is here working on the Highway 16 project. Andrew Merilees, president of the Haida Gwaii Tourism Association, was on hand for the announcement and said it will be good for the entire islands as well as the northern communities. “It’s fantastic,” he said. “Certainly it will be great for the tourist infrastructure on the islands.” The province’s contribution of $272,000 represents 80-percent of the new building’s cost. The remaining $68,000 will be supplied by the village of Masset, through a Gwaii Trust application, money already set aside from another program, and the village’s general capital budget, said administrator Trevor Jarvis. The funding comes through a provincial program called “Towns for Tomorrow” which helps communities with populations under 5,000 with community infrastructure projects.