Serving up learning at Loon Lake: Peter Bentley makes largest-ever gift to Forestry
Imagine you’re a kid who has cancer. One of the great joys of your summer is attending Camp Good|times at Loon Lake. You get to explore the forest, swim in the lake, and hang out with other kids who are going through the same things you are. You’ve got bunk beds, scary campfire stories; the whole thing.
Except for a place to eat. There are 130 kids and counsellors in your group, and the dining hall only fits 90. At every meal you have about a 1-in-3 chance of eating outside, rain or shine.
Or imagine you’re a Forestry student, staying at Loon Lake for your field school. You are working hard in the forest every day, and mealtime is refueling time. But a burst water line in the dining hall means that dinner tonight consists of anything that doesn’t need to be washed or cooked.
The dining hall at the Loon Lake Research and Education Centre has seen better days. Built in 1974, it was originally intended to serve only field school students. Today, between 70,000 and 80,000 meals are served each year to young campers, community group members and corporate teams. This isn’t a place you can just close for renovations.
Thanks to a $1 million gift from Peter Bentley, the Loon Lake Dining Hall will be replaced by 2015.
Now retired from a successful career at the helm of Canfor Corporation, Peter Bentley is a longtime friend of UBC. He was active in the World of Opportunity campaign in the early 1990s, and has served on the Faculty of Forestry’s advisory council and the Sauder School of Business’ advisory board. In 2003 Peter provided support for UBC Robson Square, helping ensure that UBC had a presence in the heart of downtown Vancouver.
“I was so impressed with the facilities at Loon Lake; it reminded me of my young days out in the woods,” Peter says. “But when we went to lunch in the dining hall I saw a few holes.” He adds, with his customary understatement, “I wanted to do something for UBC and I thought this would be useful.”
Peter‘s gift to the Faculty is the largest philanthropic investment from an individual it has ever received. In recognition of this, the new dining hall will be named the Bentley Family Hall.
“I’m glad to be in a position to help,” he says. “I’m an alumnus and so is my wife, and 3 of my 5 children are alumni too. UBC is a great university!”
Replacing the dining hall is a multi-step process. First, the old Staff House will be demolished to make room for the new hall. Then the dining hall will be built, and once it’s up and running the old hall will be thoroughly renovated and turned into accommodation to replace the Staff House.
“We’re cutting Douglas-fir timbers for the new dining hall right now,” says Paul Lawson, Manager of the Malcolm Knapp Research Forest. “We have built a new drying shed and the timbers should be ready in a year. Then in the summer of 2014 we will start building the new hall as a dovetail notched timber frame. It should be ready to use in 2015.”
The dining hall project is the final stage of Loon Lake’s redevelopment, which began just under a decade ago. Forestry alumni have been loyal in their support of Loon Lake through the annual alumni appeal, enabling many improvements to the facilities and equipment.
The Faculty of Forestry is deeply grateful to Peter Bentley and the Bentley family for their foresight and generosity. However despite Peter Bentley’s generous gift, funds are still needed to ensure this multi-step project is completed. The entire cost of the project is $3 million, and we have raised $2 million to date.
The new dining hall will enable Loon Lake to thrive for the benefit of future generations of students, researchers, children, educators and community organizations.
Read this story and others like this in the June 2013 issue of Branchlines.