A pair of youngsters explore the Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea in Sidney. The aquarium will close Jan. 15 to 22 for maintenance. (Shelly Steen/file)

Sidney’s Salish Sea aquarium to close for maintenance

First extended closure for the Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea since it opened in 2009

For possibly the first time since it opened in 2009, the Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea will be closing for an extended period for updates and repairs.

The entire aquarium and store space will be closed from January 15 to 22 for needed maintenance, says Executive Director Mark Loria. He said the scope of the work is such that significant portions of the Centre would be exposed while repairs are done.

“This is the first time the Centre has closed for such a duration since opening in 2009,” Loria stated in a brief announcement Tuesday, “but due to almost nine years of salt-water related operations, we need to close completely for larger updates and repairs.”

One of those areas is the space beneath the Centre’s classroom. Loria said in an interview that the system under the floor operates the tanks in the classroom as well as the tanks in the nearby hallway. The floor would be open for the work and not usable.

At the same time, Loria said workers will have to access a valve for maintenance — and that will likely mean tearing open facility walls to reach it.

“It’s a key valve,” he said, noting it’s operating normally now, but has had issues of being stuck in the past.

Loria said that staff of the Centre have, in the past, conducted repairs and maintenance during after hours,but the aquarium itself as stayed open. This time, the work will have a significant impact on regular operations necessitating the closure. As a result, part-time staff of the Centre will be impacted over that period.Full-time staff will continue to work, being involved in the maintenance and Centre updates.

One of those updates, Loria added, will be the preparation of the outside area near Beacon Park. Work will be done during this time to ready the site for the Centre’s Coast Salish Project that will feature art installations from area First Nations. That work is expected to begin on Monday.

The Centre applied to the Town of Sidney in July 2017 to erect two pieces of public art, created by Tsartlip artists Charles Elliott and Chris Paul. The Centre received a BC/Canada 150 grant a well as $16,000 from Diane and David Ressor and the Salish Weave Foundation, as well as in-kind support from RJC Engineering and Knappet Projects to install the works.

Loria said they don’t like the impact the closure will have on their revenue, but felt to do all the work they needed, it was necessary. He said other than that, the repairs and updates aren’t costing the Centre any additional money.

The Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea is expected to re-open to the public on Jan. 23.


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