A cemetery south of Moose Jaw, Sask., has been approved as the future home of a theme park complete with full-sized replicas of biblical structures from a tabernacle to Noah's ark.
"This will be a one-of-a-kind tourist attraction and I think there will be people coming from all over the world to visit," said Marc L'Hoir, who manages Sunset Cemetery in the city.
Similar park exists in China
He says the genesis for the idea comes from China, where businessman Wenqing Sun constructed a similar park in the city of Shenyang in northern China.
"He actually converted from Buddhism to Christianity and this is just part of his spreading the word of Christianity throughout the world," L'Hoir said.
L'Hoir says Sun is a friend of the owner of Sunset Cemetery, which owns land north of the current cemetery site — about halfway between the city of Moose Jaw and the Canadian Forces base south of the city.
The theme park would be built on two hectares (five acres) adjacent to the cemetery. L'Hoir expects it to be a popular tourist destination.
"You know how many people go to Vatican City? How many people go to Jerusalem to the Wailing Wall? So once the word gets out and we start marketing it, I think it'll be a real tourist attraction for Moose Jaw," L'Hoir said.
'Hopefully people want to be buried there.' - Marc L'Hoir, manager of Sunset Cemetery
"Plus it's going to enhance the cemetery," L'Hoir said. "Hopefully people want to be buried there."
According to the plans, the Noah's ark replica will be 136 metres long, 23 metres wide and 13 metres high, with three levels including a children's play area on the first floor.
"The second [floor] will depict animals that were on the ark and the third is going to be a 3D technological exposé on the life of Jesus," L'Hoir said.
Park expected to cost $1.2M
The RM of Moose Jaw's administrator, Mike Wirges, says council approved the development at a meeting last week.
"It's not by any means anything you would attribute to a theme park, like rollercoasters or anything like that. It's just a passive park that people would essentially walk through," Wirges said.
L'Hoir says the park will be built in phases, at an estimated cost of $1.2 million. He says it will take about four years to complete, but could be open before it is entirely finished.