Chamber officially closes highway tourist centre

Visitor services facility will be closing next year after 31 years of service

Steven Heywood/News staff Carol Whitehouse stands outside of the Sidney tourist information centre on Beacon Avenue. The Beacon Avenue location will now be the sole information centre on the Peninsula after the Pat Bay Highway tourist information office closed for good this month.

A Saanich Peninsula visitor services facility will be closing next year after 31 years of service.

The Saanich Peninsula Chamber of Commerce made it official this month that they will not re-open the Pat Bay Highway Visitor Information Centre for the 2014 tourist season after failing to find any help to offset the costs of repairs to the building.

The chamber had asked local municipalities for financial help back in October but indicated they had not asked for specific amounts.

The chamber stated at the time it needed $80,000 to operate the visitor centre in 2014 and had come up with promises to cover around $25,000. On Dec. 10, however, the chamber announced the 25-year-old building would not reopen.

The chamber also operates the Beacon Avenue visitor information centre in Sidney, which receives operational funding from the municipality. It served an estimated 7,500 people in 2013.

The chamber will retain control of the Pat Bay Highway property through the term of its lease.

There were plans within the chamber membership to design and build a new multi-million dollar visitor centre. Those were put on hold this year after support from the provincial government was not forthcoming.