Jul 15, 2022

Grand Opening Event Held for Qualico-Donated Building at Oak Hammock Marsh

Winnipeg, MB – The official grand opening of the Willow Retreat at Ducks Unlimited Canada’s (DUC) Harry J. Enns Wetland Discovery Centre took place on July 11 at the Centre’s Oak Hammock Marsh location.

The Willow Retreat is a modified ready-to-move home built by Star Ready To Move Homes Winnipeg and donated by Qualico as a gift-in-kind donation worth nearly $250,000. The building will be used for a variety of activities, including year-round educational programming for youth, specialty group workshops, as well as private functions, meetings, and gatherings.

Kevin Van, Qualico’s President and CEO, said the DUC Wetland Discovery Centre’s work is important and aligns Qualico’s corporate responsibility impact areas of building sustainably, lifelong education and healthy lives.

“The great work of the entire team here at DUC’s Wetland Discovery Centre reminds us that our resources are precious and they can be finite,” he said. “The pathway to true sustainability of our planet comes from the support and strategic big-picture plans from government and businesses, and of course the decisions that each of us make each day. This is where the work of this centre helps drive continuous awareness and education for all of us.”

Willow Retreat is replacing the existing small youth education centre built in the 1980s that has been in need of significant repairs.

Willow Retreat today vs the Youth Education Centre from the 1980's

The new building was constructed using the same techniques used for residential ready-to-move homes, but some modifications were made, including building the roof truss system so it was solar panel ready, not using glass panels on the deck to protect the birds, and coming up with exterior colours that would blend in with the surrounding area.

Star Ready to Move Homes worked with Wetland Discovery Centre staff to determine what modifications would need to be made to the building to ensure it met the needs of staff, visitors, and wildlife at the marsh, and Jeff Meseman, Branch Manager, Star Ready to Move Homes, said everyone involved was looking forward to seeing the building completed.

“We were all honoured and thrilled to be part of this project,” he said. “To create and build something that we can one day visit and share with our own families is very exciting.”

Jeff noted that the ongoing collaboration amongst the Star Ready To Move Homes team helped make the project a success, including Andy Nytepchuk, Design and Drafting Manager (now retired), who was instrumental in putting the final design together with the team; Mike Wien, Project Manager, who was hands-on throughout the project with his team; and Sean Goodlow, Sales Manager, who handled all the final details and selections with DUC.

At the grand opening event, Kevin shared that the project is a fine example of the coordination and determination of the Star Ready To Move Homes team and the staff at the Wetland Discovery Centre, including Manager of the centre, Nathalie Bays.

“I’m proud to see what our employees at Star Ready To Move Homes accomplished by working together with Nathalie and her team,” he said. “Standing here, we can see how great results start with having a strong vision from our customer. The next step is having a well-attuned and specialized team that can listen to those needs and deliver a product that hits the mark.”

Willow Retreat's new outdoor seating patio vs the old seating area

On behalf of the Wetland Discovery Centre’s employees, Nathalie spoke of the gratitude and satisfaction they felt at having a new space to encourage people of all ages to gather and learn about the natural world and how they can preserve it.

“It’s exciting to see the realization of this long-desired upgrade that will allow for the much-needed expansion of the conservation education experience for all ages,” said Nathalie. “Our thanks and deep appreciation to everyone on the Qualico/Star team who helped bring this long-held vision to fruition.”

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