Monday, November 25, 2013

Exciting plans to restore public access to Saanich Observatory!

Attendees of Initial Stakeholder Meeting Nov 23 2013 
Nov 23 Meeting, Stakeholder attendees
Dear Saanich South,

On Saturday morning I chaired a meeting at the National Research Council (NRC)’s Astrophysics headquarters. 30 stakeholders came together to discuss how best to restore public access to the Saanich Observatory. 

Attendees included Dan Wayner, the NRC Vice President and Greg Fahlman, the General Manager of the Observatory and Herzberg Institute, as well as public school teachers, the Dean of Engineering and an Astrophysics professor from UVIC, a Vice-President from the Royal Museum of BC, public school science teachers, local business people, and six long-time astronomy volunteers with the Royal Astronomy Society of Canada (RASC).

By the end of the 3 hour meeting we had agreement on the outlines of a plan to re-open the Centre of the Universe and restore public access to the Saanich Observatory! 

Of course there is a ton of work left to do, but we are now well on our way.

The NRC agreed to pay for all the infrastructure, maintenance, utility and security costs for the Centre of the Universe. They also agreed to negotiate free public access to the Observatory so regular Saturday night viewings could resume.

Science Venture, the UVIC non-profit which runs popular youth summer science camps, formally proposed at the meeting a six month pilot project of workshops for classroom school tours, and science camps during Professional Development days, spring break and over the summer.

Nelson Walker, the President of the RASC – which has a 95 year history of offering expert volunteers on the Hill – said his organization could take the lead in running the Saturday night viewings.

Two working groups were created at the meeting. The first group will look at practical next steps and will be chaired by Don Moffatt, a Business Analyst and the originator of the online petition to save the Centre of the Universe.

The second group will look at the long-term vision and business case for the Centre and will be chaired by Dale Ryan, Director of Public Relations for Butchart Gardens and Director of Sales and Marketing for the Hotel Grand Pacific. 

I look forward to increased community engagement and ownership of this effort and will keep you updated as we move forward. 

Warm regards,