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Conservatory plans for future, years after facing closure

VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – It was four years ago this month an iconic Vancouver attraction was facing closure.

Today, the future of the Bloedel Conservatory at Queen Elizabeth Park looks far more secure.

For one, it’s getting a new roof. Its unique geodesic covering will remain, but weathered elements will be replaced thanks to park board and federal government financing. Work on the new dome begins this month.

Vicky Earle, who is on the board of VanDusen Botanical Garden which is partnering with the conservatory, says programs are being developed to get people visiting and volunteering.

“We are going to start training new guides. We’re looking for people who’d like to be ambassadors of the conservatory to share stories about the plants and animals. We also have a series called Walk in the Tropics, which are monthly tours that go on with different speakers and are about an hour in length,” she explains.

Plus she says the facility is proudly displaying the one hundred new finches it acquired this summer.

“We have 60 new gouldian finches and they have all the colours of the rainbow on them. They’re really quite spectacular. So you get a lot of beautiful melodies in the background. It adds to the ambiance. People are loving it,” she enthuses.

Although Earle has no hard core stats, she believes visitor numbers have improved over the last few years, especially since members of VanDusen Botanical Garden can get into the conservatory for free.  She says new partnerships are being formed with tour bus companies and the centre is developing special family programming for February.

A budget shortfall in 2009 caused the park board to rethink its annual $250,000 subsidy for the conservatory.