Monday, July 29, 2013

Momentum growing to maintain public access to the Saanich Observatory

The Centre of the Universe is perched atop Observatory Hill, next to the most important astrophysical facility in Canada, the Herzberg Institute, and right beside the Dominion Observatory which holds one of Canada's largest and most powerful telescopes. Soon we'll celebrate this telescope's 100th birthday - but will the public be invited to the party?

The Federal Conservative government has announced it is withdrawing the $250,000 needed annually to keep the Centre open.

I'm also concerned that this change could be a prelude to further cuts to the Observatory's funding and that it could be followed by additional restrictions on the public's access to Observatory Hill.

The Saanich Observatory is an important part of Victoria. It is a strong tourist draw, a regular component of the training routine for many cyclists, a beloved destination for star-lovers and amateur astronomers and -- most importantly -- a place where thousands of students have been awed by space and even inspired to pursue the sciences.

Observatory Hill is located within the provincial Constituency of Saanich South and dozens of residents have contacted me already to ask that I work to maintain public access. I will do my very best!

The value of this asset to the public far exceeds the cost of keeping it open. Our challenge is to make that argument persuasively to both levels of government. With your help I am confident we can do it.

This Global News piece to the right will give you an overview of where things are at right now.

I've also included the complete Hansard video of a Question Period exchange on this subject from last week so you can see for yourself what the Provincial Liberal Government is doing about this situation.

This week I am consulting widely with individuals determined to keep the "Centre of the Universe" open and preserve public access to Observatory Hill. I will share our strategy for moving forward soon.

Warm regards,


Lana Popham
MLA, Saanich South