TOURISM: More on Bay of Fundy Experience Centre at Digby

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Showcasing the Bay of Fundy

Dean Kenley, Ian Barnes and Diane Theriault want to see a Bay of Fundy Experience Centre built on or over the water.

Jonathan Riley – Dean Kenley, Ian Barnes and Diane Theriault want to see a Bay of Fundy Experience Centre built on or over the water.

Published on March 31, 2012 , Jonathan Riley , The Digby Courier

A tourism group in Digby wants to put the wonders of the Bay of Fundy on display.

Dean Kenley and Diane Theriault are co-chairs of the Bay of Fundy Experience Centre advisory working group, an offshoot of the Digby Area Tourism Association chaired by Ian Barnes.

They want to build a marine experience centre to showcase the economic, natural, historical and cultural importance of the Bay of Fundy.

“This is a special place,” says Kenley. “And more people need to see it, need to see the biodiversity we have here, need to learn about the tides, the fishery, the history, the whales. We want to show them what’s out there.”

Kenley says it is also the right time to be proposing this.

“We need to build on the buzz created by the Seven Wonders contest last year,” says Kenley. “With everything that is happening with tidal power: the project right here in the Gut, the province choosing Digby as the port of choice to support the tidal industry, we need to capitalize on all this and showcase it to the world.”

The group is working to form their own separate association but in the meanwhile DATA has issued a request for proposals for a feasibility study for the centre.

That study will look at site selection, size and cost of a centre and major exhibits.

The group would like the centre to be on or over the water, not only so visitors can look out and see the tides come and go, but also because they plan to use lots of seawater in their exhibits.

They are open for suggestions about site selection, though they do have two possibilities in mind. The province owns 14 acres on the north side of the Racquette across from the Pines.

And expansion ideas for the Digby wharf include a southern breakwater coming out a right angle to the shore more or less behind the town’s visitor information centre. The group believes that would be an ideal site for a Bay of Fundy Experience Centre.

They say it is important for the centre to be within walking distances of other tourist facilities like shops and restaurants. They foresee the centre also housing meeting and educational facilities as well as various displays.

The feasibility study will also analyze other centres around the Bay of Fundy to avoid overlaps and make sure this centre is something unique.

Roger Outhouse, who was behind earlier efforts to establish a Bay of Fundy Discovery Centre, has been working with the group.

“He has shared so much information and experience with us,” says Theriault. “He has really saved us a lot of time and trouble.”

Theriault says she is used to running into barriers on projects but so far everyone has been enthusiastic and helpful.

“The premier supports this idea, the province wants it here, they tell us we are on the right track. We have the best access to the Bay of Fundy but up until now this part of the province has never received any funding or any help to showcase it.”

The group believes such a centre will draw in visitors to the area and give them a reason or reasons to stay.

“We’ve got a good group working on this,” says Barnes. “We might not agree on everything but we all want the same thing: we all want more people to come to Digby and we want our kids to stay here.”

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