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

Downtown Victoria businesses cite parking issues as top challenge

A report put forward by the Downtown Victoria Business Association asked owners for input

Victoria woman in L.A. hospital after she was run over twice

Lynn Phillips has suffered from multiple broken bones and internal bleeding

Victoria teen killed by falling tree, remembered as hero

Tai Caverhill was the first to spot the tree falling towards him and his friends

Tiny Yorkshire terrier Poppie survives days on remote island

ROAM rescue crews, family searched for dog, missing in Saanich for days

UPDATED: Commercial truck clips lines in Saanich

BC Hydro called, determines lines are cable and phone, not power

Air Canada reviewing how crew left sleeping passenger on parked plane

In a Facebook post, the woman said she woke up ‘all alone’ on a ‘cold dark’ aircraft

Thieves steal tents from B.C. school, Grade 7 camping trip happens anyway

Nanaimo businesses, school staff and parents ensure trip goes on

Only legal pot shop between Vancouver and Kamloops now open

Private cannabis store on Skwah land in Chilliwack is first B.C. licensee to be Indigenous owned

Canadian communities responding to climate change

New research highlights state of local adaptation planning in Canada

B.C. judge defies lawyers and adds six months to man’s sex assault sentence

‘I find the joint submission is contrary to the public interest and I’m rejecting it’

Man presumed dead after boat capsizes in Columbia River

Search and rescue efforts recovered a life jacket

Crews fight wildfire along Sea-to-Sky Highway

A cause has not been determined, although a downed power line is suspected

PHOTOS: Event marks one year since soccer team rescued from Thai cave

Nine players and coach took part in marathon and bike event to help improve conditions at cave

Most Read