Okanagan Science Centre makes pitch for funds

The Okanagan Science Centre requested Thursday that it become an official function through the Greater Vernon Advisory Committee...

  • Sep. 7, 2012 6:00 p.m.

Taxpayers could provide a popular attraction with financial stability.

The Okanagan Science Centre requested Thursday that it become an official function through the Greater Vernon Advisory Committee. That would provide them with annual operating funds.

“In general terms, it fits the terms of reference but it will take more discussion to determine the centre’s status,” said Bob Fleming, a GVAC director.

“There is merit to their application and they will have to be given a serious look.”

Director Catherine Lord supports turning the science centre into a function.

“They have a lot of kids go through there and it benefits the community,” she said.

About 25,000 to 30,000 people a year access the  centre, with 95 per cent of the programs geared towards youth.

Under GVAC bylaws, the only functions presently are the Vernon Public Art Gallery, the Greater Vernon Museum, the Boys and Girls Club, the Vernon Arts Centre and Teen Junction.

As part of its request, the science centre is seeking $150,000 annually in five-year core operational funding.

“Core funding is essential so we can focus on programs,” said Sandi Dixon, centre executive director.

Dixon insists that the centre provides a valuable service in the community.

“Not all kids play soccer or are into the arts,” she said.

“There are many kids that need the alternate programming the centre offers.”

Of the $150,000, $45,000 would help hire an exhibit co-ordinator/curator and $20,000 would add hours to existing staff and add part-time staff.

“To reach our goals, we need to increase our staffing,” said Dixon, who says it’s difficult to keep positions filled because competitive wages are lacking.

“There’s a lot of pressure and stress to the job but not a lot of money.”

The centre received one-time funding of $32,500 this year to alleviate operational pressures.