By Franklin L. Foster, Ph.D.
At a news conference on Wednesday, January 6, 1999, Vic Juba, chairman of the Heavy Oil Visitors’ Centre Committee made it official by announcing that the design and construction phase of the new, state-of-the-art, interpretive center for the Heavy Oil industry is now under way. Juba was joined in making the announcement by Ron Willemsen of Westwind Design of Calgary, Guy Dudding, Director of Parks and Recreation for the City of Lloydminster, and Franklin Foster, President of Foster Learning Inc.
Juba, who has been working on the idea of an interpretive center for the heavy oil industry for over ten years, stated that while the current fundraising objective of $750,000 had not yet been met, the Committee felt they were close enough to that objective to warrant proceeding to the construction phase. He thanked the local Oilfield Technical Society for their significant financial support and the hours contributed to the fund raising effort by several members of the OTS. Partly in response to those contributions, the physical site of the interpretive center will from now on be known officially as the OTS Heavy Oil Science Center.
The physical location of the Centre will be an existing wing on the south-east corner of the Barr Colony Heritage Cultural Centre. Mr. Dudding indicated that the City anticipates the new display area will result in a significant increase in visitorship to the Barr Colony Centre and that its attraction for tourists and local residents will be considerable. Once completed, the ongoing operation of the OTS Heavy Oil Science Centre will be under the auspices of the City through the Barr Colony Heritage Cultural Centre so the project represents a considerable contribution to City facilities by the Heavy Oil industry.
Ron Willemsen, who will act as Project Co-ordinator during the construction phase, described some of the innovative display and exhibit technologies which Westwind Design will use. There will be an emphasis on both the educational quality and the entertainment value of the experience of visiting the Center. Multi-media presentations, inter-activities, and state-of-the-art technologies will all be used to tell the story of heavy oil in ways that will appeal to everyone from the visiting elementary school student to the industry insider.
Franklin Foster, described his company’s role in designing and building the world wide web site which is associated with the Center. This phase began in May of 1996 and has developed already into a web site of more than 200 pages. The site is arranged in the same subject areas as the displays and exhibits which will occupy the physical Center. Foster Learning will continue to supply Information Research and Development through the present design and construction phase of the project. The public will be able to keep up to date with the project by visiting the web site at www.lloydminsterheavyoil.com
All and all, the OTS Heavy Oil Science Centre promises to be a major plus in the development of both the City of Lloydminster and of the Heavy Oil Industry. With a current budget of $658,000.00, the project will likely be one of the largest culturally enhancing developments of 1999 in our community.