February 18, 2013 - 4:50 PM
By Jennifer Stahn
For the second time in as many years the Big Little Science Centre (BLSC) is trading spaces, thanks to the recent reallocation of space by School District 73 to accommodate the growing programs of the Twin Rivers Education Centre (TREC) and Four Directions storefront.
Currently located at the former George Hilliard School on Holt Street the proposed move would see the science centre pack up and move down the street less than a kilometer, to the former Happyvale Elementary where TREC is currently located. While it is uncertain right now if the science centre will move to that location it is clear that they must vacate their current space when the lease ends at the end of June.
Founder Gordon Gore said in a newsletter earlier this month “the news of the move out of George Hilliard, after only 18 months at the present location, came as a complete
surprise to staff and volunteers at the centre.” He also talked about future planning, noting “the TREC site is attractive, newer than George Hilliard, has many more electrical outlets and sinks, and has potentially more room. However, this means it is likely more expensive to lease. There is also the question of the permanency of the lease. Will we have to move again in another two years?”
Because of the costs involved with constantly moving and the uncertainty as to permanency the new location presents executive director Gord Stewart says the pressure is on more than ever to find a permanent home. Stewart says the science centre will likely make the move to the Happyvale site and that the school district is trying to help with the logistics.
Heading into it's fourth move since opening in 2000 and second in the past two years Stewart says the board has “hopes for a three to five year window” in securing funding for a permanent building. He notes board members have just started working on funding and because it is all in the early stages there is no way to know for sure just how the long the fund raising process will take.
They have gone as far as creating a preliminary plan for what they would need, based on current and past spaces and the growth of the program. Stewart notes they currently occupy 8,000 ft. squared and ideally would like to see 10,000 ft. squared of usable space. He adds they haven't factored in halls, washrooms and the like and therefore the space would likely be quite a bit larger once the space is properly mapped out.
The science centre currently occupies eight rooms as well as a basement storage area. Started at the David Thompson Elementary School in Westsyde, BLSC moved to Bert Edwards Science and Technology School before moving to George Hilliard School. Approximately 18,000 people visit the science centre every year, with a total of well over 110,000 visitors since it's inception in 2000. Offering public drop-in times as well as planned parties, school outings and camps the science centre is also used as a training ground for teachers and future teachers attending Thompson Rivers University.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013