Victoria Butterfly Gardens getting a new environmentally friendly roof

Central Saanich tourist attraction will be closed for construction during October and November

The birds, butterflies and botanicals are getting a new environmentally friendly roof in time for Christmas at Victoria Butterfly Gardens.

A new jungle motif will also be installed to greet visitors arriving at the 1461 Benvenuto Ave. attraction in Central Saanich, general manager David Roberts said Monday.

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The gardens are open this month, but will close in October and November to allow for the work, he said. It will re-open Dec. 1 for the facility’s Christmas light display.

Existing glass panes framed with wood beams are being replaced in the roof with a 10-millimetre-thick translucent polycarbonate and a frame of expoxied steel, Roberts said. That work will be done by Harjim Industrial Services. The project management company being used for the upgrades is Sculpin Fish Design.

The new polycarbonate roof will hold energy more efficiently than the glass, requiring less heating and allowing the gardens to reduce its carbon footprint, Roberts said. A new boiler was installed in 2012.

To let in the most amount of sunlight as possible and meet the needs of the butterflies, the clearest possible polycarbonate material was chosen, Roberts said. “We need to allow for the UV [ultra-violet] light, which is what causes butterflies to fly.”

Visitors will not notice a difference in the roofline because the new design mimics the old, he said.

“We are going to do a video show of how everything is put together,” Roberts said. Pictures of the work will be posted on .facebook.com/butterfly.gardens.

By mid-November, the roof should be finished, allowing time to hatch new butterflies in time for the December opening, he said. Work on the lobby and gift shop will be done in November.

The cost of the project is not being released, but Roberts called it a “significant investment” that would help promote jobs in the local economy.

The project is complicated by the hundreds of creatures living inside this giant greenhouse. Kurtis Herperger, a master gardener and the Garden’s head of environmental sustainability, is arranging for creature care.

Along with the variety of butterflies, the Gardens has 30 species of birds, ranging from tiny button quail scurrying along the ground, to finches and flamingos that once lived in the downtown Crystal Garden.

Birds will be cared for in large enclosures at the site and will be moved to avoid proximity with the construction, Herperger said. Finches will go into large cages. Quail will be taken offsite to be cared for by a former employee.

Various other creatures, including poison dart frogs, tortoises and a chameleon, will be moved into a large container on site, he said.

The 250 koi fish will be put into 1,000-gallon containers and moved by forklift onto trucks to be taken to Applied Aquatic Concepts in Central Saanich. The wholesale business specializes in aquatic plants and cold-water fish.

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