Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Are public facilities really for the entire public?

I've been out and about with grandkids this week but it is not something I can afford to do regularly. Our trip to Science World was an example. Admission, including an Omnimax presentation, for two adults herding four children, aged three to seven years, is $157.00. Allow for transportation, parking, juice and hot dogs and the cost for grandma and grandpa nears $250.

On a summer Sunday, we were joined in the Omnimax theatre ("one of the three largest in the world") by about 20 other people for a 44 minute presentation that was mediocre, at best. Science World is undergoing renovations but, in total, is a tired facility that charges way, way too much.

That is not likely to be noticed by the Board of Directors. They're not exactly ordinary people. For example, the Science World Chair is Walter Segsworth. He is, according to Forbes, also Director of Great Basin Gold Ltd.; Chairman of Plutonic Power Corporation; formerly Chairman of Centenario Copper Corporation and of Cumberland Resources Ltd.; and formerly Director of Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd., UEX Corporation and Yukon Zinc Corporation.

Not surprisingly, Mr. Segsworth is joined at board meetings by a collection of wealthy executives and academics. There is not a single director who represents citizen or community groups.

Science World would be greatly improved if it were managed by a group more representative of BC citizens.

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  1. Fortunately the kids don't notice it's tired! But yeah, I remember too much of the gear from 20 years ago. And it's surprising that they charge as much as the aquarium, which has thousands of actual live fish and animals, some very large, to care for. Where does all that Science World money go!?! I'm sure the board and their nearest have season's passes, which takes the edge off regular visitations.

    1. Your comment echoes a message I got from a Vancouver area science teacher. He complained that many exhibits were on display at the old downtown site housing Science World before Expo 86 enabled a new home. He said the facility was worthwhile but not affordable, simply too expensive for most of his students and their families.

      The fact there is no mony may explain where the money goes. Capital budgets come from corporate contributions and taxpayers but operating funds depend on admissions. About 25 people sitting in a large Omnimax theatre on a prime summer Sunday may demonstrate Science World has priced itself out of reach for many people.

  2. G. Barry StewartJuly 9, 2013 at 1:10 PM

    $157 for a visit to Science World? Ouch! It might have been cheaper to go to the privately-owned Capilano Suspension bridge... which does include a year's pass.

    Vancouver's excesses (and the toll to get there) are reasons why we rarely cross the bridge anymore.

    1. Yes, Capilano Suspension Bridge would have cost our group $94. Haven't been there for years but maybe it's time. A trip up Grouse Mountain on the Skyride would have cost $122.

      My point though is that people without resources are probably forced to spend time at McDonalds Playplace where no one asks for admission fees or parking charges. That's not my sense of an ideal society.

  3. G. Barry StewartJuly 9, 2013 at 3:48 PM

    I grew up in Lynn Valley, where we had a scarier suspension bridge and free access to the most dangerous place in the lower mainland (other than the DTES, LOL!) — so I never went to the Capilano bridge until last summer. The fee was $30-ish per adult (I believe) but there was a good amount of value per dollar there.

    I'm surprised that Capilano beats Science World by such a wide margin for entry fees.

  4. I am a grade 5/6 teacher in Mission. Our school is considered a inner city (poor) school and field trips are always a challenge to pay for.This year we went to the Museum Of Anthropology at U.B.C. Because they don't charge for aboriginal students the cost for my class was cut in half( my class is 50% aboriginal).They also waived they fee for a tour guide and special class on artifacts. They do this for all schools who go to the M.O.A. It was a wonderful experience for the kids. I too am a grandparent and have experienced the price gouging by so-called educational experiences not to mention movie's ($60 ) for 2 adults and 2 under 10 year olds. I have been but won't go back to Science World.

  5. The "Eye" has also felt financial shock at Science World and has rethought taking the "kids" to expensive, yet mediocre venues and mediocre, Science World is.

    Akin to this, BC is being known more and more as a place of tourist traps and expensive ones at that. I do not mind paying but I do want to get value for my money and there is very few places one can do that.

  6. I'm not surprised that the Chair is linked with mining/power companies. When I did my teacher training in the 90's I remember participating in a large interactive exhibit called 'Mine Games'. In it, we divided into groups to learn about mining and develop a fictitious mining development. It was kind of like those 'choose your own adventure' books on steroids. In the end, we 'won' by finding the best fresh water lake to dump the toxic tailings into, despite protests from the actors playing the part of the local First Nations communities. Figures...



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