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Summerside science centre takes significant step towards reality

Proponents of a new science centre planned for Summerside’s waterfront hope to start a capital campaign early in 2018 to help pay for the project.
Proponents of a new science centre planned for Summerside’s waterfront hope to start a capital campaign early in 2018 to help pay for the project.

The proponents of a new science and technology centre planned for Summerside’s waterfront hope to start a capital campaign to fund the project early in 2018.

The Summerside Discovery and Research Centre, as it is tentatively being referred to, is the brainchild of the Bedeque Bay Environmental Management Association (BBEMA) and the Summerside Y Service Club.

In 2015, the groups contracted MSRB for $15,000 to prepare a feasibility and sustainability study on the proposal. The City of Summerside contributed $5,227 towards that total.

Summerside council got to see what the city’s contribution helped pay for Monday night, during its monthly meeting.

Ron Perry of the Summerside Y Service Club and Tracy Brown, BBEMA’s executive director, told councillors the study had made various recommendations for the project to help make it more feasible, but that it was a sustainable project over the long-term.

The most significant recommended change for the centre’s previous design was halving the building’s overall footprint of 20,000 square feet down to 10,000 square feet and adding a second floor to get the same overall space.

“This option is cost-effective, sustainable and provides significant infrastructure to host ample programing options and interactive exhibits that can meet the needs for a discovery centre into the future,” said Perry.

The centre will include features like a planetarium theatre, research and community space and science-related exhibits and activities for kids.

Perry added the next step will be to form a governing board for the centre, which can help spearhead the capital campaign to help fund the project.

Perry and Brown invited the City to have a place on that board and asked to continue the municipality’s previous support commitments. In 2016, the city agreed to a 50-year lease to the groups for land at the end of MacKenzie Drive. Rent would be $1 per year. The deal included other tax abatements as well.

Other than the commitment already made for the land and the money contributed to the feasibility study, the proponents said they do not foresee having to approach the city for any additional funding regarding the project, though they did say some in-kind services might be requested.

Colin.MacLean@JournalPioneer.com

@JournalPMacLean

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