New facility will be added to Wells Gray research land

TRU expanding accommodation capacity at its Wells Gray Research and Education Centre

Plans for the new facility seen in the recent request for proposals put forward by TRU. (TRU)

Construction of a new building at TRU’s Wells Gray Research and Education Centre will soon begin. Last month, TRU released a request for proposal (RFP) in order to find contractors interested in taking on the project. Though the RFP was initially supposed to close on April 5, TRU extended the closing date until April 12.

The new building will be located some distance away from TRU’s pre-existing structures at the site near Wells Gray Provincial Park, located 25 km north of Clearwater. The existing structures include a classroom building and five cabins, according to Tom Dickinson, TRU’s dean of science.

At around 3,500 square feet, the new building will feature sleeping, kitchen, laundry and showering facilities for 20 students. In addition to this, Dickinson said that the new building will also feature a volleyball court on land near the new building. An already built road will connect both the new and old buildings to a parking lot.

Plans for the building were originally laid out in 2009 by a student in TRU’s architectural and engineering technology program. Yet before the building could be constructed, the permit lapsed and structure quotas changed, forcing TRU to revise their plans. By the time the plans were revised, Dickinson said they needed more money to complete the project.

Since then, Dickinson has said that the project has accumulated $418,000. Much of the money has come from capital funding, though philanthropist Ken Lepin donated $225,000. Dickinson has also been working on soliciting donations from industrial businesses in the area.

“Under the first plan, I had the Lafarge factory willing to give us cement, Tolko had agreed to give us plywood and Weyerhaeuser would give us the wood,” Dickinson said. “The Lafarge plant is closed now, but I’ve talked to Lafarge Canada and I think they’re still good for that. We’re getting to the point where everything will be ready to go.”

The new building is expected to cost between $460,000 and $480,000, and will most likely be finished this summer. Construction will start as soon as additional funding or donations have been secured, says Dickinson.

“We’re moving forward, but I still want to see if we can get as many donations as we can,” Dickinson said. “But everybody is behind it. We have huge amounts of support from local people.”

Danmar Construction Ltd. has already been chosen to provide a project management role. They will be responsible for contracting out the rest of the building’s construction, including plumbing and electrical.

While this new building will primarily be used by science, geology and natural resource science students from TRU, visiting scholars will able to use the building as a research base as well. Like the existing structures, the new building will be open to the community and groups like Wells Gray Tours and the Wells Gray Research and Education Centre Society.

“The existing structures were built for people who were used to roughing it, using outhouses and putting up with camping,” Dickinson said. “With a nicer set of facilities I think we I think we will be able to broaden our horizons a lot more.”

In 2014, a 76-acre parcel of land was donated to TRU, but the university was unable to hold title to the land. Instead, it was granted stewardship to the 76 acres that are adjacent to the 10 acres where the Wells Gray Research and Education Centre is located.

TRU has owned the Wells Gray Research and Education Centre since 1994.