Mission Observatory Is Dead

Mission – There will not be an observatory in Fraser River Heritage Park.

The project, which is already under construction, will be re-purposed according to a press release issued by the District of Mission.

The release lists a variety of reasons that the project will be abandoned, including building code violations, safety concerns and an unrealistic business plan.

The district claims the construction of the observatory proceeded without the required drawings and permits in place and professional consultants demonstrated that the Mission Heritage Association’s business plan “is inadequately developed.” The release also says the construction and operation costs are drastically under-estimated while the revenue estimates are unrealistically high.

“The observatory is dead,” said Mission Mayor Randy Hawes.

Brian Antonson, who was instrumental in the working of the business plan for the observatory, took to Facebook to post his musings:

“I’ve been mulling this statement from the mayor regarding our Observatory business plan:

“All of the stuff that we were told about the business plan, the research, all of it was really smoke and mirrors, not factual.”

As I’m principally responsible for the development of the business plan, I could take great personal offense at that. But pondering this for a couple of days since I first read it has made me feel more like ‘grieving’.

I grieve for the integrity of the professionals with whom we reviewed our plans and who happily provided input, including a world class telescope designer, and a man who built and ran a similar though much larger and very successful operation and deemed our plan “achievable, doable”. I grieve for members of astronomical societies who have been very supportive and freely provided advice. I grieve for the educators who provided enthusiastic input on the viability of our plan. I grieve for the highly competent construction people who developed the plans and executed the construction of a fine special purpose building that could be a learning centre for children and adults alike. I grieve for the potential equipment suppliers who provided ample guidance and suggestions to help us meet our operational goals with financial efficiency. I grieve for the technical people who provided advice in several areas. I grieve for the hours we all put in to meetings, to the careful weighing of input, the consideration of ‘facts’ above wishes and desires, the focus on reality, on providing an opportunity for learning about the universe we live in that is displayed in the skies above us. I grieve for the people in Morning Rotary who understood this dream and supported it with their financial commitment, and I grieve for other donors, including the provincial government, who put their funds to work to build this huge opportunity for Mission. I grieve for the community members who showed their support in countless ways. I grieve for the many committed volunteers who dedicated untold hours toward a project they believed in and strove to make this a reality in their own way. I grieve for the loss of yet another concept that could bring badly needed tourism to Mission.

To have that considerable body of carefully researched work, which received input from so many, now trivialized as “smoke and mirrors, not factual” is an affront to the integrity of every single person who contributed to it in some way, and an apology is in order. Not expected, just in order.

And now it is in danger of perhaps being bulldozed, or maybe ‘repurposed’ into a wedding reception venue or something else. This is a sad time for Mission, unhappily shared by many. And we know many are encouraging us to continue working toward having this unfortunate decision overturned, and we thank you for your huge support.”

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