Special to The B.C. Catholic

A new Catholic centre is now being built above the Sea to Sky Highway in Britannia Beach.

The Copper Ridge Conference Centre is being developed by the Institute for Research, Communication and Development (IRCD), a registered charity. The spiritual activities of Copper Ridge will be entrusted to Opus Dei, an institution of the Catholic Church that helps people find God in their everyday life.

The project has been in the works for over 10 years, since IRCD bought the land and began working on local rezoning. Interface Architecture Inc. created the centre’s conceptual design in 2012.

“It has been a fascinating project to work on, since your mindset is very different when working on spiritual rather than commercial objectives. Key to our work was how we were going to bring nature into the building given the magnificent 40-acre setting,” said John Lo, the project’s architect from Interface.

“Light penetrating the 36,000 square-foot complex was a vital consideration, as was placement of the chapel so that its users are screened from any distractions.”

An early concept drawing of the conference centre.

Wales McLelland Construction broke ground in September 2017, and now the access road, services, septic system, and hydro lines are complete. Construction is still ongoing and the Conference Centre is scheduled to open in early fall of 2019.

Also under construction is a home for the conference centre’s caretaker. “Having a caretaker right on site will help us keep the roads open year round so people can make use of the centre in all the seasons,” said Lo.

The cost of the centre and caretaker home is a little over $12 million and is being supported by a capital campaign and monthly donors.

The development will certainly benefit the community; every summer for the past three years, an outdoor Thanksgiving Mass, open to the public, has been held at the site, drawing up to 350 people. This year year’s Mass was celebrated by the Vicar of Opus Dei for Canada, Msgr. Frederick Dolan.

“Copper Ridge is our way of sharing in (Opus Dei founder) St. Josemaria’s story and in continuing it for future generations,” said Msgr. Dolan.

“We need to work with the same spirit of those who went before us 90 years ago, when Opus Dei was founded, and like them, count on divine grace to see us through. I am confident Copper Ridge will be the conduit for terrific work whether we are providing spiritual retreats, parenting classes, or professional ethics seminars to people in the Greater Vancouver Area,” he said.

To learn more about the project, visit www.copperridgeconferencecentre.ca.