Behind Roger Charles

Horticulture Centre aims to break ground on Mel Couvelier building

A greenhouse destroyed in a fire two years ago at the Horticulture Centre will rise again as the centerpiece Mel Couvelier Pavilion.

A greenhouse destroyed in a fire two years ago at the Horticulture Centre of the Pacific will rise again as the centerpiece Mel Couvelier Pavilion.

The single-story, $1.5 million building is set to break ground this month after members of the non-profit garden and horticulture college voted to finance construction with a mortgage.

The pavilion is expected to give the 105-acre garden a constant stream of revenue through rentals from weddings and corporate meetings, fed from the nearby Vancouver Island Technology Park.

“This is intended to be the core income centre for the society,” said Roger Charles, executive director of the HCP, a.k.a. the Glendale Gardens. “After two years of sweating and hair pulling, we are thrilled to be in this position.”

What is now a large, fenced concrete slab held a large greenhouse, which burned in a spectacular fire on Feb. 16, 2011. Called the Glass House and donated by Saanich 33 years ago, it acted as a picturesque, although imperfect wedding venue.

“It wasn’t useful in the winter or the heat of the summer. You either baked or froze,” Charles remarked. “This (new) building will provide a very nice location for weddings, corporate meetings and social events.”

On Sunday, at what Charles reckoned was the best-attended society meeting in the HCP’s 35-year history, members overwhelmingly supported a plan to borrow $750,000 from VanCity. The remainder of the construction budget comes from insurance, a $250,000 loan from Saanich, and more than $300,000 from fundraising.

The timber-framed pavilion is planned as 3,000 square feet, with large south-facing windows and a ‘green’ roof. Construction is expect to last eight months.

The HCP’s business case estimates the pavilion will bring in about $225,000 per year and leave the society with a healthy income, while paying down the mortgage and repaying Saanich.

“We tend to be booked all summer for weddings. That was an important revenue source before the fire. Since then we’ve had to rent a tent,” Charles noted. “It’s necessary to replace what was lost with a long-term, reliable income stream. (The pavilion) would be a substantial improvement. With a 365-day operation, we’d get revenue even over Christmas.”

HCP is dedicating the pavilion to former Saanich mayor Mel Couvelier, who was instrumental in establishing the HCP society in 1979, securing Crown land, and then building the gardens in the 1980s. Couvelier worked to fundraise for the pavilion project up to the week before his death on May 30, 2011.

Although it tends to be overshadowed by the high-profile Butchart Gardens, HCP draws visitors to 10 acres of scenic demonstration gardens and 95 acres of native woodland, and is supported by more than a hundred volunteers, and houses an accredited horticultural college.

“We wouldn’t have the center without (Couvelier),” Charles said. “In honour of his enormous contribution, naming it after him is the right thing for us to do.”

The horticulture centre and gardens is at 505 Quayle Rd. See hcp.ca.

editor@saanichnews.com

 

 

Just Posted

West Shore resident, local officer encourages women to take control of their safety

Kris Greffard is posting short videos with safety tips for women using local trails and parks

Point Ellice House exhibit offers new lens into colonial history

The new ‘Politics of luxury’ display studies the wealthy O’Reilly family from several angles

Police and Indigenous communities pull together in 10-day canoe journey

Victoria Police Department, Ministry of Children and Family Development took part in Pulling Together Canoe Journey

Nearly a dozen coonhound puppies and their mother to reunite at Saanich park

Dogs’ former foster family initiated one-year reunion plans

Trio brings roller skating fever to Greater Victoria

Roller Skate Victoria offers workshops, summer camps and more

Rich the Vegan scoots across Canada for the animals

Rich Adams is riding his push scooter across Canada to bring awareness to the dog meat trade in Asia

How a Kamloops-born man helped put us on the moon

Jim Chamberlin did troubleshooting for the Apollo program, which led to its success

Sexual harassment complaints soaring amid ‘frat boy culture’ in Canada’s airline industry

‘It’s a #MeToo dumpster fire…and it’s exhausting for survivors’

How much do you know about the moon?

To mark the 50th anniversary of the first lunar landing, see how well you know space

POLL: Do you carry reusable shopping bags?

While a court ruling determined the City of Victoria’s plastic bag ban… Continue reading

Greater Victoria wanted list for the week of July 16

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Body, burning truck found near northern B.C. town

RCMP unsure if the two separate discoveries are related

Couple found dead along northern B.C. highway in double homicide

Woman from the U.S. and man from Australia found dead near Liard Hot Springs

UPDATE: West Kelowna fawn euthanized, not claimed by sanctuary

Gilbert the deer has been euthanized after a suitable home was not found in time

Most Read