EDITORIAL: Feds abandon science education

Centre of the Universe closure could thwart many young people's dreams

Many parts of Greater Victoria offer a view of the large white dome atop of Observatory Hill in Saanich.

At the end of the summer, that’s about the only way people will get to take in the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory.

The National Research Council reluctantly admitted last week that it plans to close the Centre of the Universe interpretive centre and end all public outreach connected with astronomy and astrophysics at the attached Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics.

This will likely be the first time in the facility’s nearly 100 year history the public has been shut out of this local national historic site.

Greater Victoria has a lot to be proud of with the observatory – for a brief moment, the Plaskett telescope was the largest in the world, and it is a site that continues to make significant contributions to precision technology and our understanding of the universe.

The scientific research arm of the site, the NRC Herzberg Institute, isn’t closing and will continue to employ more than 100 people. But the federal government’s mandate to reorganize the NRC as an “industry-focused” organization certainly doesn’t inspire confidence.

Closing the Centre of the Universe is being framed as a cost saving measure under a regime of restricted budgets, and not a consequence of the NRC’s new approach.

It’s fair to say that the federal government has decided to abandon public education linked to its federal science.

Closing the Centre of the Universe will save the NRC about $230,000 of its $900 million budget, implying the decision was driven by an ideology suspicious of and hostile to science, rather than the principle of saving a few public tax dollars.

If the government wants “industry-focused” research and advanced technology, closing the door of research centres to young people is shortsighted and counterproductive.

Out of the thousands of kids that visit the Centre of the Universe each year, if only a handful are inspired to enter engineering, math and the sciences, the public outreach has proved its worth.

Just Posted

Volunteer needed to empty dog poop can in Saanich Park

Local volunteers do the work of irresponsible dog owners at Mount Doug

Most Victoria transit takers thank their driver: poll

Bus riders thank drivers on Transit Driver Appreciation Day

Sexual assault charge dropped against from CFB Esquimalt member

Navy Lt. Ronald Clancy was charged with two counts of sexual assault in August 2018

Vancouver Island overdue for the big one, can also expect mega-thrust tsunami

The last big earthquake was 70 years ago in Courtenay

Sentence handed down for sex assaults committed more than 30 years ago

Man in his 80s will serve a conditional sentence in the community

VIDEO: RCMP ask kids to help name soon-to-be police dogs

13 German shepherd puppies will be born this year

No injuries, pollution in Vancouver Harbour ship collision: Transport Canada

Transportation Safety Board says it has deployed a team of investigators look into the incident

Budget 2019: Five things to watch for in the Liberals’ final fiscal blueprint

Finance Minister Bill Morneau will release the Trudeau government’s final budget on Tuesday

New concussion guidelines launched for Canada’s Olympians, Paralympians

The guidelines will be in effect at this summer’s Pan American, Parapan American Games in Lima, Peru

Alphonso Davies doubtful for Canada game against French Guiana in Vancouver

Canada will be without injured captain Scott Arfield and veteran Will Johnson

Watchdog called after man who yelled racial slurs at B.C. vigil hurt during arrest

BC RCMP say man was ‘acting suspiciously’ at prayer vigil for victims of New Zealand mosque shootings

NDP’s Jagmeet Singh steps into the House of Commons, making history

Burnaby South MP becomes first visible minority to lead a federal party in the House of Commons

Reeling Port Alice about to lose its only bank

Scotiabank branch closure follows latest mill setback, bad for business and the elderly

Most Read