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Community angered after popular Coquihalla visitor centre closes

(iStock Photo)
Summary

Well-known visitor centre in Merritt closes amid community pleas to reverse the decision

Merritt's mayor upset as the province shuts down popular visitor centre

MERRITT (NEWS 1130) – Its red roof stands out, and if you haven’t stopped there, you’ve probably seen the visitor centre at the start of the Okanagan Connector while driving the Coquihalla Highway past Merritt.

There is some outrage, including from the community’s mayor, after the centre was permanently closed just over a week ago.

The anger spreads to the majority of people in Merritt, according to Mayor Neil Menard, who adds the building has long been considered part of the community.

Menard is no longer hopeful the closure will be reversed even though a visitor centre is set to open in Merritt’s downtown core.

“We’ve tried hard to get them to change their mind and they’re not listening at all so I think it’s fait accompli. I don’t think the government… they couldn’t see the forest through the trees for a number of the information centres that they’ve shut down, and again, kind of putting the responsibility back on the local community and the municipalities.”

The government says it makes sense to close the one at Exit 286 as it was mostly being used as a washroom stop.

Destination BC says it’s been transitioning six visitor centres from a provincial model to a community one. It adds the opening of a new centre between Merritt and Kelowna is one of the reasons for this closure.