The Visitor Information Park is celebrating its 10th Anniversary! Located at the top of the bypass on Stewart Road, this charming park, known as the gateway to the Sunshine Coast, started as a dusty site, an idea, and a determined board of directors and community-minded businesses.
This project came about when the previous map, which had been put up by the Gibsons and District Chamber of Commerce in 2006, was destroyed in a major wind storm in January of 2010.
This area had long been identified as a missed opportunity to welcome and orient visitors. So in June of 2010, a committee was put together to come up with an idea to replace the map and improve the area.
The board felt there needed to be a better “way finding map” that supported businesses throughout the entire Sunshine Coast – not just Gibsons. Many of our businesses support the entire coast, not just a portion, and it made more sense to create something that was Coast-wide, which would be useful for all visitors.
In order to accomplish this, we needed to provide convenient facilities, a pet leisure area, a rest stop for bicycle users, park benches and a place where visitors can orient themselves, not only to where they are going but what they can do here.
Construction began in May 2011, with many local businesses stepping in and helping create this beautiful park.
On a sunny and warm September 8, 2011, the park was complete and we hosted the Grand Opening at the park. The Chief of the Squamish Nation blessed the park, Dancers from the Sechelt Nation performed a welcoming dance.
The Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony was completed with local dignitaries & the Gibsons & District Chamber of Commerce board.
Over 675 hours of paid and volunteered man hours from 51 different businesses, governments and nonprofits contributed to this project! From labour to build the forms for the base for the sign structure, to the building of the sign structure, to the labour, preparation and landscaping of the site. A total of $154,954 was raised.
The project is considered to be a huge success by all participants, and it is greatly appreciated by the local residents since it has beautified a site which was previously unsightly, and un-usable.
The Visitor Information Park helps to support the many small businesses along the Sunshine Coast that rely on tourism for a large portion of their revenues. The VIP is part of much broader efforts to market the Sunshine Coast as a destination, and to provide a warm welcome to visitors when they come here.
This year, as the Public Health Order protocols lifted on June 25, 2021 to allow for more travel within the province, the Sunshine Coast benefited greatly as many people wanted to get away – whether for a day, a night, or an extended vacation.
The Visitor Info Kiosk was open from Canada Day to Labour Day this year. With today’s traveller gathering their travel information digitally, many visitors continue to stop at the Visitor Information Park for the latest news and information about the Sunshine Coast – from places to visit, attractions, parks, trails, and events.
Over 1000 visitors engaged over the summer by stopping to speak with our tourism advisor, to view the area maps, to use the dog park, or to rest and let the ferry traffic go by.
This park also provides part time jobs for local businesses. Currently, direct job impacts from the creation of this park include:
- Advertising boards printed by long time supporter, Vital Signs & Printing.
- Landscape maintenance for the past year has been completed by Elphinstone Property Care Ltd. to cut the grass, tend to the gardens, as well as donating plants to beautify the park.
- From one of the first contributors and supporters of the park, regular and ongoing maintenance of the portable washroom facilities are maintained by Bonniebrook Industries Ltd.
- Over the summer we are able to hire a student through the Canada Summer Student Grant to work at the Visitor Information Kiosk at the park.
The Visitor Information Park continues to be there for our visitors, travellers, and residents to provide an enjoyable start to their Sunshine Coast journey.