Let the puns fly, as we already did in the headline, but this is job as big as Ahab’s obsession!

Yes, one of Pearson College UWC’s longest, and probably largest, residents – the reconstructed Gray Whale skeleton currently on a covered deck adjacent to the Molson Pool — is about to go on a short, carefully-monitored move across campus.

“It’s all part of this summer’s planned menu of campus land and buildings upgrades, maintenance and repairs,” said Vice President, Operations and Administration Ty Pile.

Pile explained that repairs and upgrades to the pool gives us the opportunity to move the Gray Whale to a more prominent, public display area on campus where more people, including visitors to campus, can appreciate the majesty of this aquatic mammal. The thinking right now is to move the whale to a new home on an open space adjacent to the Academic Building.

“This will also allow us to make repairs to the whale support structure before it is reassembled in the new location,” added Pile. “Once the new footings are in place, a protective roof will be built and the skeleton carefully reassembled. Garry Fletcher, a former Marine Science teacher at Pearson and Metchosin resident, has agreed to assist and advise the college and contractor on the move.”

Fletcher led the amazing taxonomy project in November 1990 that saw students and faculty spend many long days preparing and mounting the skeleton of a deceased Gray Whale that had been found floating in the Strait of Juan de Fuca west of Race Rocks. You can read about that initiative here.

Once new footings at the new location are in place a protective roof will be built and the whale reassembled. Pile added that Heather Gross, former Deputy Head and VP Education and Programming, has agreed to assist and support a project to refresh and produce a museum quality information display about the whale project.

With the extensive refurbishing of all five student residence houses completed over the last few years, the College is looking at how to best fit out all these buildings with extra kitchen space for students to prepare meals, especially when students celebrate special and significant occasions, such as Ramadan.

“Last summer’s rebuild of SȾOḰI¸House was the first to include full kitchen facilities in the dayroom,” said Pile. “That facility proved to be a resounding success with positive feedback from both Houseparents and students. This summer, the College will begin incorporating student kitchens into each House, starting with ŦÁ¸WEN, which was the first House to undergo a major renovation several years ago.”

He added that additional cooking spaces for students will also be added to the Student Common Room student store, together with upgrades to the existing kitchen area in that building.

Meanwhile, back over at the pool, some readers might remember that COVID-19 necessitated the move of most fitness equipment to a hastily-constructed temporary deck adjacent to the pool building itself. When deemed safe by public health authorities, this set-up allowed students to use this equipment in a well-ventilated space while safely distanced.

Given the extent of deck repairs required, noted Pile, this space can now be converted into a more permanent facility with proper flooring, windows and ventilation. The area underneath the deck will be cleared and protected with screening to deter otters looking to build a nest under the building. The area where the whale is being moved from will be replaced with a new deck and some durable outdoor furniture provided to create a social area for the campus community.

Some of you may have noticed that work has started on The Maintenance Building (homebase for some of the most important folks on campus!) is getting part of its roof replaced with more work to be done next year in conjunction with other improvements to the building.

Last, but not least, the Pearson Building which houses most of the College’s administrative offices, is getting needed repairs to its drainage system. Some minor ground flooding this past spring damaged an exterior wall and encroached upon indoor storage areas requiring some exterior digging and inside remediation of affected areas. If all goes well, that should be taken care of in a few weeks and this writer can reclaim his office!

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