Horticulture student tending to poinsettias in a greenhouse.

G.R. Paine Horticultural Training Centre


Mr. George Paine donated this rural site of 32 acres to Malaspina-University College in 1995. The facilities of the Horticulture program, located on the main campus of Vancouver Island University, were impacted by the route of the new Island Highway, and a decision was made to relocate to the land that Mr. Paine had so generously donated. The GR Paine Horticultural Training Centre opened in the fall of 1998, and the one-year Horticultural Technician program has been operating at the Centre ever since.

Under the terms of the agreement, George Paine continued to live on the property and run his sawmill until he passed away in early 2009.

The Site

The 5-acre parcel on the south-west corner of the property has southern exposure and is perfect for horticultural activities. Our facilities include 7,000 ft. of "Harnoise Nordique" style greenhouses, and 10,000 ft. of headerhouse, classroom and lab areas for 24 full-time and 12 part-time students. Over time, the property is being landscaped by the Horticultural Technician students as part of their class projects.

Our vision is that this will be a demonstration facility illustrating sustainable site design and horticultural practices. The rural setting will be a place where students and the general public of all ages can study horticulture, landscape design, storm water management, water quality control systems, alternative energy sources, arboriculture, riparian vegetation, second growth forest ecology and historic land-use.


The greenhouses are used to grow a variety of plant materials. These include bedding plants, poinsettias, ornamental landscaping materials, native plants and seedlings for reforestation of Vancouver Island University's Forest Woodlot. Plants produced are sold to the public to help support the program, as well as local charities.

The greenhouses are divided into five controlled growing environments. The greenhouses are constructed of galvanized structural steel and have inflated double polyethylene coverings. Modern environmental control equipment is used to provide optimal growing conditions for our crops. These include under bench hotwater heating, roof vents, supplemental lighting, shading and blackout systems. Control of the greenhouse equipment is through an Argus environmental computer control system. The Agrus system allows staff and students to accurately maintain and monitor growing conditions in the greenhouses.

The greenhouse operation practices water conservation; rain water is collected from the building roofs and ground run off, stored in a pond and recirculated for irrigation purposes to lessen the Centre's use of groundwater. Integrated pest management ( IPM) practices are used in the greenhouses. Natural predators such as ladybugs are used to combat insect pests.


The headerhouse is the main work area where our greenhouse and nursery activities are performed. Soil mixing, seeding and transplanting are done in this large open workspace adjacent to the greenhouses. The program has an automatic Vancouver Bio Machines (VBM) seeding line used to seed our forest seedling crop, as well as a Bobcat skidsteer loader for transport of materials and landscaping work. As part of the program curriculum, students complete a skidsteer operators certification course.


Most program lab and classroom activities are held on-site. Our facility has two teaching classrooms. One classroom has a lab lay out and is set up for drafting activities that occur as part of our landscape and irrigation design courses. The lab room is also equipped with dissecting microscopes for use in our pest management and botany courses.

Containerized Nursery

A large graveled area adjacent to our irrigation reservoir is set up for a containerized nursery production where trees, shrubs and perennials are grown. The site is surrounded by fences to protect the delicate plant materials from deer. Materials produced in our nursery are used for site landscaping, as well as offered for sale to the public.

Location, Access and Parking

Access to the Horticultural Centre is from the driveway on 2324 East Wellington Road; the road winds along the south side of the property. A large parking area is located on site and is lit in the evenings for security purposes. Follow the road to our main building.

Hours of Operation

Classes are held from 9 am to 4 pm, Mondays to Fridays, and some evening classes are held during the semester. Students are on duty on weekends to care for the plants.