At the urging of Mayor Christian Provenzano and Ward 3 Coun. Donna Hilsinger, city staff are investigating the possibility of building a butterfly house in Sault Ste. Marie.
City Council agreed last week to look into establishing a local lepidopterarium in partnership with Entomica, the kid-friendly bug museum located inside the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre.
The idea, as pitched to city officials by Entomica's John Dedes, is to create a community-centric butterfly house, showcasing Sault Ste. Marie as a world-class centre of environmental research.
"Entomica has quickly expanded from a small, interactive children's exhibit, to a significant contributor to the local tourism community," Dedes said in a prospectus prepared for City Council.
"Entomica has positioned itself as a facilitator and educator for nature-based learning and science-related community events, both in-person and online. Entomica is looking to further expand and revitalize the tourism industry, by offering further wellness and educational programs to the community."
"Botanical or garden tourism is one of the fastest-growing sectors of cultural attractions around the world, and gardens as tourist destinations are becoming more prominent."
"Current USA and Canada tourism databases reveal new networks and unique models for attracting visitors by offering unique environmental and natural experiences, such as butterfly houses," Dedes wrote.
He said his proposed Butterfly House Community Centre could be "a conduit of collaborations and scientific research within the science community, offering a platform for change, and bringing continued scientific-based experiences and attractions to this beautiful region of the world."
Program possibilities outlined by Dedes include:
- conservation programs
- senior engagement-day programs
- education for all ages, including people with disabilities and mental health issues
- social gatherings – community bonding, sharing of research
- butterfly releases
- nature-based art and therapeutic learning through health and wellness lectures and practices
- birthday parties
- wedding ceremonies and photos
- conferences and meetings
"It's worth considering further," said Mayor Provenzano.
"Everybody likes the idea. There's lots of positive elements to it.... I appreciate Coun. Hilsinger championing this."
"It could be a beautiful asset in our community," the mayor said.
City staff will evaluate the cost of building a local butterfly house and the possibilities of partners and sponsorships, and will bring a report to a future meeting of City Council.