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Wickaninnish Inn boosts CBT’s biosphere centre sails in Tofino

Clayoquot Biosphere Trust celebrates support for new biosphere centre facility
Michelle Hall of the CBT happily accepts a $40,000 donation from Charles McDiarmid of the Wickaninnish Inn. (Photo submitted)

The Clayoquot Biosphere Trust is riding a welcomed wave of momentum towards its pursuit of a new educational gathering space in Tofino.

The Wickaninnish Inn recently donated $40,000 to the CBT and is pledging a total of $150,000 over the next five years contingent on the development of a biosphere centre.

The Inn’s managing director Charles McDiarmid told the Westerly News in an email that the initial $40,000 donation can be spent wherever the trust sees fit.

“The original intention was for these funds to go towards the building fund and were contingent on confirmed plans to proceed with construction but for this first year’s donation since they are not quite ready to proceed the donation was provided on an unrestricted basis,” McDiarmid wrote. “Future donations in 2024 and beyond are contingent on confirmation of construction which we are all very hopeful will happen this year.”

He added the Inn supports the CBT’s mission and the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve program, pointing to both the CBT’s website, as well as

“We are providing these funds as we believe in the mission of the Clayoquot Biosphere Trust…which is an organization that supports the very tenets of the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve program…while also providing a welcoming commons for a meeting of the minds in building trust and understanding between First Nations peoples and more recent arrivals to our area and in fact for all people who live, work and play in this incredibly special and important place on our planet,” he wrote.

In a written statement to the Westerly, Michelle Hall of the CBT called the Inn’s donation a “remarkable display of commitment to community and environmental stewardship,” and heralded the Inn as “a cherished local business.”

“This significant backing from Wickaninnish Inn holds immense meaning for the Clayoquot Biosphere Trust, underscoring the extraordinary support the local business community is providing for this vital initiative. We believe that Wickaninnish Inn’s dedication will inspire others to join hands in championing this essential project for our region,” Hall wrote.

The CBT purchased a roughly 881 square-metre property at 301 Olsen Road in 2019 with the goal of establishing the region’s first biosphere centre.

At the time, the land was zoned for a duplex or single-family home so, in July 2020, the CBT applied to rezone the site to allow for the new facility to be built.

Though nearby residents objected to the facility’s location in Tofino’s Crab Dock neighbourhood during a Dec. 21 2021 public hearing, the project navigated through controversial waters and the town’s council approved the rezoning.

The centre’s current estimated price tag rings in around $15 million and Hall said the CBT is hoping to score funding support from the provincial and federal governments, along with donations from residents and local businesses, like the Inn.

“Our relentless focus is on fundraising to realize this visionary project,” she wrote.

“The future Biosphere Centre, a beacon of education, science, conservation, and cultural initiatives on the west coast, will play a pivotal role in fostering communities united around principles of reconciliation, youth empowerment, biodiversity conservation, and sustainable development.”

She added that the CBT reached major milestones by acquiring the land and successfully rezoning the property as well as putting the facility’s design work together, adding that the hope is for the centre to be completed by 2026.

“It is envisioned as a space to bring people together, creating a legacy of social responsibility, environmental sustainability, and economic resilience. Through collaborative efforts to advance community health and safeguard ecosystems, we are working towards a future marked by a healthy environment and resilient communities,” she wrote.

She encourages anyone looking for more information about the CBT or the project to reach out to

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Andrew Bailey

About the Author: Andrew Bailey

I arrived at the Westerly News as a reporter and photographer in January 2012.
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