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Summerside council confirms commitment to discovery centre

Ron Perry, left, and Tracy Brown present to council their plans for the Summerside-based P.E.I. Discovery and Research Centre.
Ron Perry, left, and Tracy Brown present to council their plans for the Summerside-based P.E.I. Discovery and Research Centre. - Millicent McKay

SUMMERSIDE, P.E.I. – There will be no confusion between two new "discovery" centres proposed for Summerside and Charlottetown, say proponents of the site planned for the western city.

Ron Perry, Y Service Club representative for the Summerside-based P.E.I. Discovery and Research Centre, made the comment Monday while making a presentation to Summerside city council, looking for council to confirm its commitment to the project.

“In my biased opinion, there is no comparison between the two. One is a glorified babysitting service and the other is a professional discovery centre with the amenities associated with it,” Perry said, after being asked by Coun. Cory Snow if the Charlottetown project would impact the Summerside development.

Perry said that he and Bedeque Bay Environmental Management Association (BBEMA) executive director Tracy Brown are sold on the Summerside project.

“It comes down to the quality of our location and the activities," said Brown. "Ours is going to be a centre on three acres that has streams, and estuary and forest land. The other one is a top floor of a building that used to be a food court.”

Perry and Brown wanted council to re-affirm the lease the city agreed to under the previous council – three acres of land for 50 years for $1 per year.

Perry said architecture costs are looking at about $175,000. The entire project is expected to cost about $6.5 million. That’s a raised estimate from the previous budget of $6 million.

Concept art of the Summerside-based P.E.I. Discovery and Research Centre.
Concept art of the Summerside-based P.E.I. Discovery and Research Centre.

“We’re looking at about 10,000 square feet on the main level and about a 9,000 sq. foot exhibit space on the upper level. There will be a state-of-the-art planetarium, classroom for visiting schools and groups to use as well as other exhibits,” Perry said.

Brown added that in addition to the 60-seat planetarium, and there will be an insectarium/atrium.

“(That’s) where we plan to host our monarch watch breeding program, as well as other year-round displays and other insects from the Island will come in as well.”

There will also be a full science research lab as well as activities outside of the centre because of the location, people will be able to go into the field.

“It’s not to be like a museum or something to just walk between displays in. We want it to feature tactile learning,” said Brown.

Brown plans for BBEMA’s estuary monitoring, bird banding and water quality monitoring programs to also find a home at the centre, so people can learn about the programs.

Perry said there are lots of advantages to the location of the centre, through BBEMA’s historic ice pond, to the board walk to the local wildlife of beavers, muskrats and ospreys.

“We also plan for there to be a display on climate change, the impact on P.E.I., sources of climate change, what can people to counter act it, as well as showcase the data collection on rising sea levels.”

There will also be a bee wall, so the public can watch the life cycle of the insect as well as locate the queen as she will be tagged. Perry also plans to for salt and fresh water aquariums.

City councillors indicated they were pleased the project was moving forward.

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