Adventure industry on our doorstep

Think: “adventure.” If you take the thought from start to finish you’ll likely get to a point where cash changes hands. The world is full of exciting and exotic opportunities to experience something memorable.

  • Jan. 11, 2011 9:00 a.m.

Think: “adventure.” If you take the thought from start to finish you’ll likely get to a point where cash changes hands. The world is full of exciting and exotic opportunities to experience something memorable.

The adventure industry has been around forever, is being developed as never before and plays a growing role in the local economy and culture.

In Sooke we have a setting that stimulates the imagination of visitors and those planning to visit – and Scot Taylor has his hands on something that is upping the ante.

With partner Phil Foster, Taylor is the local man in control of the BC Adventure College – an increasingly popular training ground for those seeking a career in their favourite environment. The burgeoning eco-tourism industry is creating a demand the college is helping to meet.

Situated at Cooper’s Cove, the institution has made some notable progress since getting its start about seven years ago. It’s in the process of having its name changed from the Sooke Adventure Tourism School to BC Adventure College.

Two separate features on the school have been done in this paper – the first, not quite five years ago and featuring the two men at the top and their vision. The second, about 18 months ago focused on a couple of students from out-of-province, one of whom is now employed by the college.

What’s now worthy of mention is the fact that more than 50 people have successfully completed the program, preparing themselves for well-paying careers doing something they truly love.

“Our program,” as stated in a BCAC promo, “provides students with the knowledge, skills and confidence to succeed in the adventure tourism industry in both land and ocean-based operations.”

The outlook has many upbeat things about it, and Taylor is very hopeful the college will be able to remain in Sooke. There are ongoing challenges, however, regarding expenses which he’s working hard at resolving, and he feels somewhere along the line the school my require some short term help.

Sooke Mayor Janet Evans is sympathetic but, as of late, doesn’t see how much assistance can be supplied. She mentioned how it had come up in the past that the school had pondered the possibility of a move to Oak Bay, and was pleased when the school had decided to remain at the Cooper’s Cove location.

“I think its a great opportunity for them for people to come out to any college or learning centre in Sooke,” she said. “It will be huge for us, providing jobs and opportunities for people to move to our community and live and work here.”

The mayor is also supportive of the nature of the adventure effort.

“It’s not a factory,” she noted, “there’s no pollution… a win-win for all of us.”

That being said, the mayor added, “I know he struggles with his property taxes and his costs, just like everybody else.”

Scot Taylor has a long history here and hopes to continue for a long time yet, but there is cause for some concern.

“We purchased this property five years ago,” he explained, “and ever since the property taxes have just gone through the roof. We understood that waterfront property goes up, but the way it’s gone up… just last year the tax assessment, nothing to do with the district… went up $400,000.”

Taylor has other issues as well, including his mill rate and factors relating to improvements and future services such as sewer connection. Time will tell how, and whether, these issues are resolved.

In the meantime the course progresses with steady growth and strong testimonials from the students who line up for admission. From across the Island and halfway across the country young applicants have shown up in the unbeatable surroundings of the scenic Cooper’s Cove and the thorough curriculum.

“Not only has this course given me the skills and knowledge to be successful in the adventure tourism sector,” says student Amy, “but it has also allowed me to learn more about myself and the great things I’m capable of.”

Logan says: “It’s a blast and a half! Being outdoors all the time during class and applying the things you learn in the field is a stellar experience.”

The profile of the school is growing, it has earned accreditation and would-be students are able to arrange student loans toward tuition. In the up to date scheme of things an ambitious entity such as the BC Adventure College looks like a valuable asset for a community. Taylor says feelers have been put out with various trades people with an eye to cooperative expansion of the college.

“We can create and develop programs,” Taylor concluded. “We’ve just been through a full (financial) review which is a big deal for us. We hope to be around for the next 30-40 years.”

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