Telus World of Science seeks expansion money

Edmonton's Telus World of Science is asking the city for $95 million to help fund a $285-million expansion its operators believe is critical to its future viability.

Edmonton's Telus World of Science is asking the city for $95 million to help fund a $285-million expansion its operators believe is critical to its future viability.

About 500,000 people visit the centre each year, but that could diminish unless changes are made, said George Smith, president and CEO of the non-profit Edmonton Space and Science Foundation.

"The most important thing is that we find a way to take this facility to a world class level so that it has the kind of critical mass, the kind of strength that it needs for a long-term successful future," Smith said.

"Because it is risky day-to-day in that facility as to whether or not it can continue to be viable if it doesn't continue to attract significant audiences."

Smith and others went before council's community services committee Monday to ask for the money to help fund the expansion, which would bring the size of the facility from 5,000 to 14,000 square metres. 

Mayor Stephen Mandel and others on the community services committee questioned representatives from the Telus World of Science about the proposed expansion. (CBC)
Instead, councillors on the committee recommended the city spend $3.5 million dollars to fund a smaller expansion of exhibit space, and only if the province contributes the same amount.

Mayor Stephen Mandel said he would prefer the cost of the expansion be spread out over a longer period of time because the city only has so much money to go around.

"I think we also have to be careful we won't put all the eggs in one basket and the development expansion is all done today because then in 10 or 15 years it'll be like it is today. It'll be obsolete, Mandel said.

"So I think they have to be a bit more creative about how they want to do things and bring back to council a more innovative plan on how to fund this and what it can mean over time."

Council will discuss the revised version of the expansion plan later this month