The Vancouver Aquarium announced Friday afternoon the receipt of the largest donation in its 55-year history. The gift of $12.5-million came from Teck Resources.
John Nightingale, president and CEO of the Vancouver Aquarium, announced that the money will go towards a $100-million expansion and revitalization plan, "to ensure a... robust future for the next 55 years."
Mr. Nightingale unveiled plans for a new and expanded central entrance and visitor hub, to be known as the Teck Connections Gallery. It is expected to begin construction soon and open in May 2014.
In addition to funding construction, Teck's contribution will go towards educational programs and research focused on water conservation issues, said Don Lindsay, president and CEO of Teck.
The Vancouver-based company operates mines in Canada, the U.S.A., Chile and Peru.
A crowd of about 100 people, including media and aquarium employees, packed into the aquarium's Pacific Canada pavilion for the announcement.
Guests were on hand to represent the federal and provincial government, which had combined for a previously-announced $25-million contribution to the revitilization . James Moore, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages and Colin Hansen, MLA for Vancouver-Quilchena, both spoke.
Mr. Moore called the Vancouver Aquarium "one of the best in the world, and it is a jewel, not only for Vancouver, but for British Columbia, and indeed for all of Canada."
In the crowd was Jane van Roggen, 84, who said she was one of the aquarium's original volunteers in 1965. Ms. van Roggen said she was one of seven volunteers in those days. The aquarium now has more than a thousand volunteers during peak season, said Mr. Nightingale.
"I knew every fish in every tank... Those were the old days," said Ms. van Roggen. "There's only one first class aquarium in Canada, and that's the Vancouver Aquarium."