© Courtesy of BoFEx committee
An architect’s conceptual drawing of what the Bay of Fundy Experience Centre could look like.
Proponents of a marine experience centre in Digby will have to find another way to raise money.
The committee behind the Bay of Fundy Experience Centre (BoFEx) launched a crowdfunding campaign on February 1.
Using Indiegogo, a online donation site, they were hoping supporters would pledge $150,000 for marketing, film production and to attract additional support.
[BoFEX wants your help: Digby marine centre to try crowdfunding, Jan. 9, 2014]
When the campaign wrapped on March 23, they had $1,700 in pledges.
Dean Kenley, chair of the BoFEx committee, said that is a reflection of difficult economic times.
“It just shows how really difficult the times are,” he said. “Money is tight.”
Kenley wonders too if maybe some people locally think the project is too big for Digby.
“I think they see it as a very large project and they think it might need to be scaled down,” he said. “The way I see it, we deserve it—no one else can do with the Bay of Fundy what we do with it right here. That’s what the centre is about—our unique position and our culture and industry that has grown up around the Bay of Fundy.”
Kenley says the committee will continue to look for funding partners.
“We have great support at the Department of Tourism and Economic Development,” he said. “They can’t do it alone but I’m confident if we could find some other funding partners, the province would be there; they’d find a way to find some money for this.”
He says the town and the municipality have also both been supportive.
The town is still working on property considerations along the Digby waterfront. A consultant chose a plot of land at the southern end of Admirals Walk, near where the visitor information centre now stands, as the ideal spot for a marine experience centre.
The town is looking at who exactly owns what in that area and the costs involved in moving or building around a sewage lift station there.
Kenley says ideally a corporate sponsor, say a tidal energy company, will step forward to support the project.
He continues to promote the project at meetings around the province and he is on the look out for funding partners.
“We’ve got our work cut out for us,” said Kenley. “We dealing with a megaproject—they take time. But I’m not giving up.”
The idea behind BoFEx is to build a world-class marine experience centre to highlight the Bay of Fundy—a feasibility study, released by the committee last March, put the price tag between $9 million and $16.7 million dollars, depending on final plans.
[Digby marine experience centre moving forward, March 11, 2013]
The consultant’s report suggests a 16,000 sq. foot facility could house visitor experience galleries, live animal displays and touch tanks. The displays would focus on four main themes: tidal landscape, tidal innovation, marine ecology and tidal living.
The centre would also include space for education, research and industry partnerships.