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Anne of Green Gables attraction to get facelift

Tourists pose for a picture at Green Gables Heritage Place on July18, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS IMAGES/Paul Wright

Time to raise a glass of raspberry cordial in celebration. One of the most popular Prince Edward Island tourist attractions linked to Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables saga is getting a government-funded makeover.

Just a week after $23 million in upgrades to a handful of historic sites in P.E.I. was formally announced by Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay, Ottawa has put out a call for consultants to guide the “redevelopment” of Green Gables Heritage Place in Cavendish.

The call for tender, issued Wednesday morning, specifically asks for “proposals from consultants for professional services.”

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According to Parks Canada spokesperson Annette Campbell, the overall goal of the redevelopment is to “refresh” the visitor experience, improve traffic flow through the site and upgrade the existing facilities.

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Green Gables Heritage Place will likely be familiar to anyone who has vacationed on the island, or who has even a passing interest in all things Anne.

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Billed as the location that originally inspired Montgomery to pen the Anne of Green Gables stories, the site includes the Victorian-era Green Gables homestead where, according to Parks Canada, “images from the blockbuster 1908 novel blend with the real life experiences of local author Lucy Maud Montgomery.”

There is also a welcome centre, a gift shop, a barn, a cafe and a large parking lot.

In May 2016, Campbell said, Parks Canada received a series of recommendations from another team of consultants for improvements to the site. They included:

  • Renovating the welcome centre and the gift shop to relieve congestion and reworking the site entrance path so that visitors walking to the house can take advantage of the view.
  • Improving the parking area to better accommodate parking and drop-off areas for cars and buses.
  • Adding a multi-purpose space for programs and on-site events.
  • Eliminating any existing barriers to the site.
  • Expanding the cafeteria.

“The next step will be to take those recommendations and develop design plans,” Campbell said.

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“Phase 1 will probably begin late this fall, with some demolition work and renovations to the barn. Phase 2 will begin in 2017. We estimate that the construction itself will be complete for the 2019 visitor season.”

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There is no indication that the Victorian home itself will undergo any major renovations.

Parks Canada recently completed an upgrade to the Haunted Wood Trail attraction, a ramble through the woods near the house.

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