Centre wants to Spark Calgary’s attention, despite price increase

Alberta Premier Alison Redford says she would like to see Calgary's new Telus Spark Science Centre more accessible to low-income families after it increased prices from its previous location.

Premier Redford wants to increase access to Calgary's new Science Centre

Premier Alison Redford gives a speech at the opening of the Telus Spark Science Centre Saturday. (Meghan Grant/CBC)
Alberta Premier Alison Redford says she would like to see Calgary’s new Telus Spark Science Centre more accessible to low-income families.

The centre opened this weekend and its prices are higher than at its previous location.

A family of four would pay $260 for an annual pass, double what it used to cost.

That same family would pay $77 for a day pass, up from $46.

At the centre’s grand opening Saturday, Redford said it’s a problem on her radar.           

"The question is how do we use this facility to ensure that kids get access?" she said. "And that becomes part of what the provincial government needs to do in terms of education policy and culture policy, so that's where I'll take that conversation and we'll try to come up with some innovative ways to do that."

Families worried about cost

Sandi Bjorgum said the cost increase is really pricey for a young family that's starting out.

"You don't have lots of money to go do these things, so that's unfortunate," said the mother of one.

Bjorgum is planning to attend and excited about what the new centre has to offer. As a teacher, she even spent half of her yearly budget for a future trip to the centre.

Calgary parent Karen Moul said it would probably be a once a year outing for her family at the new prices.

"It's just really kind of expensive for a family of four considering we're hit with school fees and other kinds of fees," she said.

Rida Rehmenr with the Science Centre says the new venue is much larger and the prices are on par with other local attractions.

"You cannot find another attraction that offers what we do for that price," she said.

‘Not your one-time visit science centre’

Rehmenr said the centre really encourages people to check out their memberships and if people want to pursue an annual pass after their first visit that admission will go towards it.

"The value for money is there," she said. "This is not your one-time visit science centre. Every exhibit keeps evolving as time goes by."

They also have community access programs to help some lower-income families and children get in the doors.

The centre, which was more than 10 years in the making, cost $160 million and is expected to draw 400,000 people a year.

Brad Struble, director of design for the centre, said the two-storey building has 153,000 square feet that features five major galleries with exhibits and a feature gallery for travelling shows. The centre has one theatre now but plans to open another in the spring.

He said he is very excited to show it off to Calgarians who have been hearing about it, or seeing it as they drive past on Deerfoot, but haven’t been inside yet.

The new centre is located on St. George’s Drive in the northeast.