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Science World may be forced to permanently close

"This has been a devasting blow to our organization and it will be hard for us to recover from,"
Science World. Photo Shutterstock

Science World states that it may be forced to permanently close doors due to a lack of revenue during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Originally constructed as part of the Expo 86 World Fair, Vancouver’s iconic geodesic dome opened its doors in 1986. The fair attracted a whopping 22 million visitors and put Vancouver on the world stage. Since then, the beloved science centre has welcomed 18 million visitors and counting.

Science World reports that it has been hugely impacted by COVID-19. After closing doors on March 13, it lost a whopping 85 per cent of its revenue immediately. 

Janet Wood, Science World President & CEO, tells Vancouver Is Awesome in an email that, as of April 6, the organization had to temporarily lay off its part-time staff and that all of its full-time staff have taken at least a 20% pay cut.

"This has been a devastating blow to our organization and it will be hard for us to recover from," writes Wood.

"There are many things we do not know right now, such as when we will be able to re-open and what that might look like when we do with Government restrictions. We are doing everything we can to ensure that we have a Science World to come back to but the longer this continues, the harder that becomes."

Wood adds that the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy Program has allowed the organization to retain its full-time staff while this program is available to them. However, operating costs for the centre are about $1 million per month, and only 2% of funding comes from government. As such, she hopes that more support will come from the government over the coming weeks and months.

"We really need support from our community right now and it’s been wonderful to see donations coming in to support our recovery. We want to take this opportunity to thank our community for their ongoing support through our closure – it means a lot!" she adds. 

Right now, Woods notes that they don't know what restrictions will be in place when they do re-open. She says they will continue to follow the advice of B.C.'s public health experts when they do. With this in mind, she anticipates reduced visitors at the dome will be the 'new normal' for a while, as well as extra cleaning and sanitary protocols.

"We may or may not be able to do events. We hold weddings and corporate events at Science World, so those things will likely also be reduced," says Woods. "We continue to closely follow the health advisories for B.C. as well as industry best practices and emerging information from recovering regions such as Asia."

While Science World is closed, Woods says that the team will transition content online which will include the experiments, activities and demonstrations at Centre Stage. Further, they will continue to support teachers with much needed learning resources.

"We sincerely hope we have the opportunity to empower bright futures when the restrictions lift. In the meantime, we hope that families join us from home and continue to find some of the same joy through these efforts."