Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea has closed effectively Monday afternoon. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)

Shaw Centre for Salish in Sidney ‘cautiously optimistic’ about the future

Councillors praise facility for adapability in the face of the pandemic

Members of Sidney council praised the resiliency of the Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea.

“It’s just a really good group doing really good work and I commend them for their efforts as well,” said Coun. Terri O’Keeffe, council’s liaison to the facility.

She made those comments after council received a letter from the facility, which has faced a number of issues over the past few months in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, starting with a significant loss of revenue. From March to May, the facility had to re-adjust its budget.

While it had planned to earn $241,900 in revenues during that period, its actual revenues totalled $20,200, a difference of almost 92 per cent, according to the letter from Pauline Finn, executive director, Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea, and Janine Morris, board chair and treasurer of the New Marine Centre Society.

“The full closure of the centre occurred at the outset of one of our strongest revenue generating periods,” the letter said. “As a result, expeditiously trimming expenses was fundamental to survival.”

The facility trimmed expenses by $106,300 from planned expenses of $284,100. These reductions included reducing staff to six from 17. The facility also secured various forms of financial support from the federal and provincial government, as the share of contributed revenues rose to $160,200 from $69,200 following federal and provincial contributions, while trimming expenses including layoffs. Overall, the facility’s net income was some $24,300 in the red during this period.

RELATED: Sidney signs off on 2020 budget with 1.79 per cent tax increase

RELATED: Popular Sidney aquarium closes over coronavirus

The facility underwent a phased re-opening, starting with a soft opening June 1-8, a community opening on June 12, and an expanded opening on June 25.

According to Finn and Morris, visitor volume is improving gradually with monthly attendance compared to 2019 low but improving positively month-over-month.

While the centre continues to plan “conservatively,” it is “cautiously optimistic” about the future in pointing to the resiliency and adaptability of staff, who also had to deal with unrelated, external equipment issue in August when the geothermal system supplying continuous salt water unexpectedly shut down.

“While challenging, this experience was a success,” the letter reads. “The [centre’s] team responded well and executed an emergency salt water supply protocol never before performed.”

The centre also made provincial news in June when it recognized B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry by making its new giant Pacific octopus her namesake.

RELATED: Sidney aquarium names new octopus after Dr. Bonnie Henry

Mayor Cliff McNeil-Smith as well as Couns. Chad Rintoul, as well Scott Garnett joined O’Keeffe.

“Obviously, it is not the year that they had hoped to be having, but certainly our appreciation goes out to the Centre for the Salish Sea for the manner in which they have [adapted],” said Rintoul.

Garnett said the facility used its enforced closure well, while McNeil-Smith took a broader view in saying that he is “buoyed and inspired” by the “positive actions” taken by the centre, as well as the ArtSea and the Sidney Museum and Archives, who also updated council.

“All of these organizations that do receive significant grants on annual basis from us have not come become to council since the pandemic started to seek additional support in funding and I’m most impressed by that,” he said. “I think my colleagues are as well.”

For more news from Vancouver Island and beyond delivered daily into your inbox, please click here.


Do you have a story tip? Email: vnc.editorial@blackpress.ca.

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and like us on Facebook.

wolfgang.depner@peninsulanewsreview.com

Just Posted

Chartwell Malaspina Care Residence in Nanaimo. (News Bulletin file photo)
Two Nanaimo care-home residents have died during COVID-19 outbreak

Death reported Monday was the second related to Chartwell Malaspina outbreak, says Island Health

Eighteen-year-old Aidan Webber died in a marine accident in 2019. He was a Canadian Junior BMX champion from Nanaimo. (Submitted)
Inadequate safety training a factor in teen BMX star’s workplace death in 2019

Aidan Webber was crushed by a barge at a fish farm near Port Hardy

Members of the BC RCMP Explosive Disposal Unit (EDU) were deployed to Drummond Park opposite of Fulford Habour on Saltspring Island after the discovery of a suspicious cylindrical-shaped device on Jan. 20. (Google/Screencap)
UPDATED: Bomb disposal unit still determining nature of suspicious device found on Salt Spring Island

Police say a resident discovered the device Wednesday morning in Drummond Park opposite BC Ferries terminal

(Black Press Media files)
Transport Canada not budging on enclosed deck rules, despite calls from BC Ferries union

There have been at least 23 cases of the U.K. variant detected in Canada, four of which are in B.C.

The objectives of the Vancouver Island Down Syndrome Society include peer support for parents and caregivers, as well as developing support services, projects, educational and employment opportunities for people with Down Syndrome. Photo supplied.
Vancouver Island Down Syndrome Society offers support for families in the community

New non-profit seeking directors in cities across Vancouver Island

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, vice-president of logistics and operations at the Public Health Agency of Canada, speaks at a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa, on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
B.C. records 500 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, 14 deaths

Outbreak at Surrey Pretrial jail, two more in health care

Vancouver Canucks’ Travis Hamonic grabs Montreal Canadiens’ Josh Anderson by the face during first period NHL action in Vancouver, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horvat scores winner as Canucks dump Habs 6-5 in shootout thriller

Vancouver and Montreal clash again Thursday night

Rod Bitten of Union Bay won $500,000 in the Lotto Max draw on Jan. 15. Photo supplied
Vancouver Island electrician gets shocking surprise with $500K Extra win

Rod Bitten has been hard at work with home renovations, which is… Continue reading

The Rogers Creek Trail main trailhead is located on the Redford Extension in Port Alberni. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
Hiker rescued after cold few hours in the bush outside Port Alberni

Alberni Valley Rescue Squad said they receive frequent calls for people lost on this trail

A suspect has been arrested in connection with fires at Drinkwater Elementary (pictured) and École Mount Prevost. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Arson suspect arrested after fires at Cowichan Valley schools

Drinkwater Elementary and Mount Prevost schools hit within a week

The Victoria Fire Department extinguished a 15 foot tent fire in the 500-block of Ellice Street Jan. 19. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Victoria police investigating after 15-foot flames engulf tent

Flames damage nearby business in 500-block of Ellice Street

A woman writes a message on a memorial mural wall by street artist James “Smokey Devil” Hardy during a memorial to remember victims of illicit drug overdose deaths on International Overdose Awareness Day, in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, on Monday, August 31, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. paramedics respond to record-breaking number of overdose calls in 2020

On the front lines, COVID-19 has not only led to more calls, but increased the complexity

Hecht Beach cabin in ashes. (Submitted)
Beloved secret cabin lost to fire on the North Island’s west coast

The trappers cabin was shared with locals, but kept mostly secret

Oyster River Fire Rescue members were called out to a suspicious fire in Black Creek. Two vehicles parked at a private residence were destroyed by fire. Photo courtesy Oyster River Fire Rescue
Suspicious fire destroys two vehicles at Vancouver Island residence

Oyster River Fire Rescue personnel were dispatched to a fire at a… Continue reading

Most Read