There is absolutely no disputing the critical role the Okanagan Science Centre plays in the community.
It has enthralled thousands of youth over the decades and likely encouraged many of them to pursue careers in science. Exhibits have also provided a major draw for tourists passing through Vernon.
That’s why OSC’s pursuit of ongoing financial support from taxpayers appears very hard to refuse.
It meets all of the criteria the Greater Vernon Advisory Committee has for providing operating grants. There is also the fact that GVAC already provides funding to the Vernon Public Art Gallery, Vernon Arts Centre, the Greater Vernon Museum, Boys and Girls Club and Teen Junction. Why should the science centre be treated any differently than these groups?
But as worthwhile as these organizations are, taxpayers have finite resources, particularly when the recession has had a significant impact on many families.
There is also the possibility that other non-profits will see the OSC garnering public funds and they will demand the same treatment. Once the door is open, how do the politicians suddenly close it?
Agencies like the science centre must also realize that access to tax dollars is no panacea. Fundraising will still have to occur to cover expenses and there may still be times when some tough budget decisions have to be made. Taxpayers can only do so much given the pressures for infrastructure and other initiatives in the community.
Ultimately, the science centre will get the support it’s seeking, but it’s a difficult task for GVAC trying to balance the needs of worthwhile organizations and those footing the bill.