Renovation starts at Medicine River Wildlife Centre
The sound of hammering is the common noise at the Medicine River Wildlife Centre near Spruce View these days.
The educational centre, which doubles as a hospital for injured or orphaned wild animals, is in the midst of a major renovation project and in need of more funding to see the necessary upgrades carried out.
“At this moment we’re looking for about $100,000 that we’re short of to begin the concrete work,” Carol Kelly, the centre’s executive director, said on Wednesday.
Kelly wants to have the concrete poured and walls up before winter weather comes. The contractor told her she has until the end of November to make it happen.
The current 4,500-square-foot centre will be remodelled into a larger, 12,000-square-foot structure worth an estimated $2.5 million sometime over the next year — just in time for the centre’s 30th anniversary in 2014, Kelly said.
The old building, built in 1991, is being stripped by volunteers this month to make way for an additional wing in the hospital part as well as a bigger public learning area with room for a cafe and indoor living wetland space.
“Everything we’re putting in will connect people with the environment. ... It’s a real vision and this will be a incredibly unique place,” Kelly said.
“The current centre was built on a shoestring using home grade materials. We had so much more usage in this building — the demand for something like this was higher than we ever imagined so the building wore out.”
The centre will now be built with industrial materials that are as “green” as possible, Kelly said, to reduce the environmental footprint.
“We’ll also be doing things like having an air exchange system for safety and smell, composting toilets and solar hot water heating.”
The hospital will be upgraded with new equipment and become a full-fledged teaching hospital.
“We have international students who come learn with us.
“This will be an even better facility for them with more efficiency and better layout of rooms,” Kelly said.
Ground was first broken for the project in April but because of delays thanks to the major floods in June and a busy summer season for construction, the bulk of work just kicked off this fall.
While Kelly said she didn’t have the exact figure for the amount of donations that have come in, she noted there have been around five major donors who have contributed around the $10,000 mark.
“Last week we also just got word from a major oil company who say they are committed to supporting the facility and Medicine River programs in their 2014 budget,” Kelly said. “It’s very encouraging. They’ve visited the centre, liked what they saw and hopefully this will encourage the other oil companies to take a look at us.”
The company and the amount they will be donating will not be disclosed until the new year.
Meanwhile, individual donors who sponsor a square foot of the new building for $300 will have a tree planted in their name of the property. Medicine River plans to GPS each tree so sponsors can locate them at any time.
“You don’t have to donate an exact $300 either. Even a $10 donation helps — anything at all,” Kelly said.
The interpretive part of the centre remains closed until renovations are complete.
To donate, call 403-728-3467 or visit www.mrwc.ca.