Ocean Discovery Centre rendering (File image) Councillors agree to allocate land along Port Drive A proposed ocean-themed tourist attraction for downtown Nanaimo is afloat thanks to a recent decision by city councillors. Nanaimo city councillors voted unanimously in favour of endorsing the Nanaimo Deep Discovery Association’s proposed Ocean Discovery Centre as well as allocating roughly 8,000 square metres of land along Port Drive for the facility during a committee of the whole meeting on Monday.

Councillors also agreed to provide a letter of support and gave the group an 18-month mandate to secure funding for the centre. The Ocean Discovery Centre is a proposed $50-million interactive marine ecology display centre showcasing deep water marine technology and First Nations marine history through various virtual and underwater exhibits.

It has been pitched as Canada’s first deep-water-technology marine display facility and proponents say it would generate tourism and boost Nanaimo’s economy. It would feature touch-tank aquariums, a virtual reality shark cage and a moving theatre.

Lorne Hildebrand, president of the NDDA, requested Monday that councillors act quickly to endorse the project and allocate land for it so that his group could begin courting potential funding sources such as the provincial and federal governments. “We have corporate and private funding willing to make announcement of some very significant money and now we need to go to Ottawa and Victoria to get the rest,” Hildebrand said.

Councillors were generally supportive of the requests, but there were questions relating to whether the city should allocate land and what type of deal would be in place. However, councillors settled on allocating land and later discussing an arrangement with the NDDA once the project reaches the appropriate stage. Read more from nanaimobulletin.com…

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