The project to build a new landmark state-of-the-art marine science research centre at Pender Harbour on the Sunshine Coast will be receiving a significant funding infusion from the family of Lululemon founder Chip Wilson.
Pender Harbour Ocean Discovery Station (PODS) has announced that the Wilson 5 Foundation (W5F) will offer up to $8.4 million to the not-for-profit organization behind the new facility, with $7 million towards construction costs, $1 million towards operating costs, and $400,000 for the project’s start-up costs.
“The Sunshine Coast and the community have been so generous to our family and as a family, we have been looking for a project that would be fun for the community and would preserve the beauty of our waters,” said Wilson, adding that “we are excited to have PODS be an integral part of Pender Harbour.”
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This is in addition to PODS’ previously secured $4.5 million from other donors and fundraising initiatives.
According to Michael Jackson, the executive director of PODS, this phase of the new research centre is expected to cost between $21 million and $25 million, but a more precise figure will be created over the coming weeks.
“This incredibly generous contribution from the Wilson’s will qualify PODS for matching government funding to help cover the construction costs of PODS,” said Jackson.
“W5F’s contribution to PODS is a significant investment for Pender Harbour and the whole Sunshine Coast Community at a time when the local economy is in desperate need of a boost. We are still actively fundraising for additional capital as well as educational program and operational costs and we hope that this new impetus will encourage more people to get on board with PODS.”
For a population with just 3,000 residents, this represents a significant economic investment in Pender Harbour.
The facility at water’s edge in Irvine’s Landing will be an immersive research and monitoring station — a hub for local and international researchers in their studies of marine and freshwater ecosystems. The research will focus on environmental health, preserving at-risk species, maintaining and enhancing biodiversity, and the effects of climate change and ocean acidification.
The research component of this facility is bolstered by the partnerships reached with Simon Fraser University and Capilano University, which will work with PODS to develop integrated research and education opportunities for students, faculty, and alumni.
Additionally, PODS will be open to the public for unique, interactive learning experiences.
The facility will have a subterranean aquarium, hands-on exhibits, a wet lab classroom with touch tanks, an outdoor children’s amphitheatre classroom, marine research laboratories, major conference facilities with an auditorium, and a cafe and tea shop.
All of this is contained within an iconic structure with a form that resembles three “pods” to act as an exclamation point on the waterfront.
According to Vancouver-based Deutscher Architecture, the design is inspired by the shape of the arching trees and traditional boat hulls in the community.
Just behind the pods, the research and conference facilities topped off with green roofs are designed to blend into the surrounding environment.
Most of the facility will be built using materials sourced locally, including glulam engineered fir wood for the structure, granite for the exterior cladding, and cedar for the interior cladding.
Construction on the facility could begin later this year for a scheduled completion in 2022.