“Explore & Experience Earth’s last frontier…”


“An inspiring collection of interactive displays, robotics, submersibles and large format theater experiences showcasing the history, the present, and revealing the future of ocean ecology & sustainable technologies.”


Where did this come from?
Why should this be built? Why are you doing this?

There is an expansive yet often overlooked connection with our Oceans. The inventions and contributions of British Columbia’s sub sea industry have changed diving and deep-sea exploration around the world. The Ocean Discovery Centre will encourage a greater connection with Earths environment and positively impact people’s perception and understanding of how we use our oceans. The Ocean Discovery Centre, a Nanaimo Deep Discovery Association initiative, positions Nanaimo as a better place to live and visit.



For more information regarding the proposed facility click here.

The Ocean Discovery Centre is a community-gathering place that tells the story of the evolution of deep-sea exploration and technology that has been developed in British Columbia and how it has changed the world.

The Ocean Discovery Centre is a place to gather, to explore, and learn more about our Oceans. A truly innovative and interactive entertainment experience where you can take a virtual tour of the Marianas Trench, a virtual submarine ride or a virtual deep sea dive without getting wet.

Using modern technologies this world-class facility presents a history of First Nations use and connection to their Oceans, plus, one of a kind and one of the most expansive collections of past and present day diving and deep-sea technology as it relates to First Nations.

The Ocean Discovery Centre is an entertaining and educational destination for local residents and tourists alike where each visit is guaranteed to provide a new and ultimate discovery of what is under the sea!



1. What is the Ocean Discovery Center?

The Ocean Discovery Centre is a unique Ocean experience attracting local, regional and global visitors to Nanaimo thru an exciting range of interactive displays, robotic submersibles and large format theater experiences. It will reflect on the history, engage with the present, and look to the future of ocean ecology & sustainable technologies.

Visitors will experience and participate in the impact we have had and are having on the Oceans environment and what we can do to preserve and protect the vast natural resource.

2. What is the timeline?

3 to 4 years

3. How much is it going to cost?

It is too early in the project to produce practical costs estimates; initial projections indicate an estimate to build will be approx. $50M

4. Who is going to pay for the ODC?

The NDDA will begin a capital fund campaign raising funds thru Federal, Provincial, Private and Corporate contributions once support in principle has been provided from Nanaimo City Council.

It is important to note that NDDA will NOT be expecting Nanaimo public tax dollars to fund this project.

5. Is there a location?

While a site has yet to be determined, early stage discussions have been held with City of Nanaimo staff. Criteria for a preferred location include:

Within easy walking distance from:

  • The Cruise Ship Terminal
  • The Casino
  • The Port Theatre
  • The Nanaimo Conference Centre
  • Public parking facilities.

Direct access to Nanaimo’s sea wall walkway.

6. Is the project part of any other project in Nanaimo

The Ocean Discovery Centre is not part of any other project in Nanaimo

7. Will you be hosting an Aquarium or any live sea animals / cetaceans

No. The ODC project is not an aquarium and will not be house any sea animals.

8. What groups are involved?

Currently the following groups are involved in the project:

  • Nanaimo Economic Development Corp./Tourism Development (Now defunct)
  • Checkwitch Poiron Architects, Nanaimo: Architects & Technical Advisors, www.cparch.ca
  • Nuytco Research, North Vancouver: Potential exhibits provider/Technical Advisors
  • Numerous business and technical advisors


Board of Directors + Advisors

Lorne Hildebrand, Director/President

  • Executive Director of EDGEWOOD
  • National Director of the EGDGEWOOD HEALTH NETWORK.
  • Active Scuba Diver and Key Volunteer in Nanaimo’s Artificial Reef Programs
  • Past Board member of the Nanaimo Community Foundation.

Tim Tessier, Director/Vice-President

  • Realtor
  • Past Corporate Business Consultant
  • Director – Nanaimo Association for Community Living
  • Past Federal Candidate for Nanaimo Ladysmith

Chelsea Pedersen, Director/Secretary

  • General Manager of Innovation Island Technology Association
  • Administrative Professional

Graham Roberts, Director/Treasurer

  • Assurance Services with MNP

Terry Knight, Director 

  • Retired
  • Co-Founder & CEO of Inuktun Services Ltd., Nanaimo B.C.
  • Former Founding Board Member – Mid-Island Science, Technology, and Innovation Council (MISTIC)
    (now Innovation Island)
  • Former Board Member – Pacific Offshore Energy Association (POEA) (Now Ocean Industries B.C.):
  • Past Executive Committee Member – Robotics & Remote Systems Division (RRSD) Member
  • Past Exhibits Chair – ANS RRSD Topical Meeting (Seattle – 1999)

Doug DeProy, Director

  • International Hydrodynamics 1968-1971 (developers of the Pisces Submersibles)
  • NAUI instructor 1971 – 1998 (NAUI – National Association Underwater Instructors)
  • President NAUI 1981 – 1983
  • Owner operator Skeena Diving 1976 – 1978
  • Owner operator Rimpac Divers 1979 – 1981
  • Partner operator Kootenay Soft Drinks 1982 – 1987
  • Area manager Gray Beverages 1987 – 1992
  • Partner Aviara Sales 1993 – 2014

Phil Stiller, Director

  • President – Intraworks I.T. Management
  • Chair – Innovation Island Technology Association
  • Vice President – Vancouver Island Crisis Society

Mike Herold, Director

  • 1994 – Present Structural Engineer, President Herold Engineering Limited
  • 1980 – 1994 Structural Engineer, Partner Duncan & Associates Engineering Nanaimo
  • 1974 – 1980 Structural Engineer, BC Public Works and Bridge Branch
  • Past Chair – Nanaimo Travellers Lodge Dementia Care Facility
  • Board Member – Nanaimo Aboriginal Centre
  • City of Nanaimo – Engineering and Public Works Committee
  • Member & Past President – Rotary Club of Nanaimo
  • Advisory Board – Young Professionals of Nanaimo
  • Advisory Member – Nanaimo Foundation

Bill Nadeau, Director

  • Proprietor of Deep Fathoms Ocean Sciences
  • Author of Various Books and Manuals on Ocean Exploration
  • Instructor Trainer Marine and Diving Sciences
  • RCMP WCMS Marine Investigator

Dave Mannix, Director

Jay Straith, Director

Garth Busch, Advisor

  • Retired
  • B. Comm, CPA,CA.
  • Former Regional Managing for MNP Vancouver Island

Ben Checkwitch, Advisor 

  • Architect AIBC, CPHD
  • Principal & Founding Partner of Checkwitch Poiron Architects Inc (Nanaimo/Vancouver)
  • Projects : the Nanaimo Cruise Ship Terminal Building, St. Paul’s Anglican Church, Current expansion of the Nanaimo Airport

David Poiron, Advisor

  • Architect AIBC MRAIC
  • Principal & Founding Partner of Checkwitch Poiron Architects Inc (Nanaimo/Vancouver)
  • Projects : the Nanaimo Cruise Ship Terminal Building, St. Paul’s Anglican Church, Current expansion of the Nanaimo Airport