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Kokanee Creek Nature Centre facing budget shortfall

The centre says it has raised one third of $30,000 it needs to continue operations
Wildlife biologist Joanna Siderius of the Kokanee Creek Nature Centre with one of her many trail cameras. Photo: Bill Metcalfe

Submitted by Friends of West Kootenay Parks Society

Recent changes to the funding priorities of the Columbia Basin Trust have left the Nature Centre at Kokanee Creek Park short $30,000 in its interpretive program funding.

The Friends of West Kootenay Parks Society has undertaken to help fill the gap with an appeal to local businesses. So far, five companies have stepped up with donations that will help allow several popular progams to be offered during the summer season.

Art in the Park and Nature’s Notebook, programs presented by the centre’s artist-in-residence Romany Watt-Oseki will be funded by Cowan Office Supplies. “As long-time residents of the West Kootenay the Cowans have spent many a day at Kokanee Creek Park over the years,” said owner Paul Cowan.

“We were elated to be asked to partner with the Kokanee Creek Park Nature Centre on their programs Art in the Park and Nature’s Notebook for All Ages. These projects combine two of our favourite things, nature and art! What could be better than spending time in the park and making art?”

Levi Nicoll, kitchen manager at the Kootenay Bakery, agrees. “There are many of us at the bakery who have fun childhood memories, participating in programs at the park. We love the idea of helping future generations making memories they will cherish for years to come.”

Outdoor Survival Skills for Youth has been picked up by the Kootenay Bakery Cafe Co-operative and the well-attended Evening Speakers program is being partially funded by donations from Oso Negro, the Hume Hotel and Tribute Boardshop.

In addition to these important steps to help conserve the environmental education component of the Nature Centre, the Nelson and District Credit Union has agreed to lead the funding for the purchase of a Hellman canoe to be raffled off during the summer. These funds will be used to help pay the costs of keeping the Nature Centre open.

These three programs are not the only gap that needs to be filled. The important Kokanee Salmon School Program also needs help. Many local residents have fond memories of an afternoon spent at Kokanee Creek Park being entertained by the knowledgeable team of interpreters and learning about the life cycle of the kokanee salmon. The Friends have applied for an Osprey Foundation grant and if successful, two-thirds of the funds required to run the school program will be covered. Help us raise the rest so your kids can have the same experience.

So far, close to one-third of the funds required to make up the shortfall has been secured for the coming summer. The staff at the Nature Centre have done their part by making changes to streamline their operations – now it’s up to all of us.

Please help by making a donation to the Friends of West Kootenay Parks Society through our website (click on the CanadaHelps button on the home page to donate and get a tax receipt) or make an e-transfer donation to the Friends at (specify the Nature Centre in the notes – donations of $10 or more will receive a tax receipt, full name and address required). The Nature Centre will be accepting direct donations when they are open and donations of $10 or more made at the centre to the Friends of West Kootenay Parks will receive a tax receipt.

READ MORE: ‘It’s still a wonderful world’: Kokanee Creek trail cameras show the secret lives of animals