SUMMERSIDE – Founders of the P.E.I. Discovery and Research Centre are hoping to inspire “eureka” moments in all who attend the facility.
“The discovery centre will not be a concept of a building, it’s the concept of an experience. It will not be a museum, it will have interactive, real-time experiments and opportunities,” said Tracy Brown the executive director of the Bedeque Bay Environmental Management Association (BBEMA).
On Monday, about 40 attended the public information meeting put on by BBEMA and the Summerside Y Service Club, which updated the progress of the facility and the upcoming launch of the capital funding campaign.
The $6.5 million facility will be built on three acres of land on MacKenzie Drive in Summerside on property that has been leased to the organization by the city for the next 50 years, costing $1 per year. They have also offered a deal on property taxes.
The 10,000-square-foot building will house a fully functioning laboratory, a planetarium, an insectarium, a discovery gallery, a bee wall and a children’s play area, as well as feature live feeds and presentations.
At this point in development, the organizations are working together to push the five-year financial plan forward.
“We are working on establishing non-profit status for the discovery centre and we have reached out to the federal and provincial governments. We hope to have a meeting with the premier and ministers in the near future.”
But, if government doesn’t sign on to the help fund the facility, Brown says the plans aren’t dead in the water.
“We are also hoping to have other investors from companies, like Telus, which funds most discovery centres in the country.
“We will also initiate the capital fundraising campaign in the next few months, but until we have about 90 per cent of our funds in the bank we won’t be doing any on-the-ground building.”
Staff for the facility will consist of paid employees, volunteers, summer students and possibly on-the-job training participants.
What will set the P.E.I Discovery and Research Centre apart from the rest is the utilization of nature trails, hands-on experiments involving specimen collection and release and opportunities for students, individuals and others to learn and experience science in its many forms.
Trish Altass of Summerside is looking forward to seeing employment, business and learning opportunities develop with the help of the facility.
“I’m really excited it’s coming to the city. I’m always excited for new job opportunities… It will also make science more accessible for students in all regions of the Island. In some classrooms some students are fine looking at a board and learning, while others need that hands-on experience. This could be something really amazing in that case.”
Vanessa MacFarlane and Gerald Giroux, two scout leaders in Summerside, agree.
“This will give us more opportunities to present to the kids and get involved with science and learn new things,” said MacFarlane.
Giroux added, “I see a real opportunity to bring youth to nature. It’s a very internet-centric world now, but with this centre, it can spark a new interest in science and wildlife in ways we weren’t able to before.”