Nfld. & Labrador

Johnson Geo Centre has a new owner: Memorial University

MUN agreed to take over ownership of the Geo Centre, saying it will be "cost-revenue neutral."

MUN agreed to take over ownership of Geo Centre, saying it will be 'cost-revenue neutral'

The Johnson Geo Centre on Signal Hill in St. John's is now owned by Memorial University. (Glenn Payette/CBC)

As of Friday, the Johnson Geo Centre on Signal Hill in St. John's is owned by Memorial University.

The Geo Centre Foundation donated the building as associated land and infrastructure to the university.

It's the latest structure on Signal Hill the university has acquired; the Battery Hotel closed in 2012, and MUN bought the building in 2013.

Gary Kachanoski, president of Memorial University, said the Johnson Foundation first approached MUN about the possible acquisition eight months ago, at which point MUN began a business analysis.

"As you might expect, given our budget and fiscal situation … part of our due diligence was to ensure that it would be cost-neutral to us," Kachanoski told CBC's On The Go. "We fully expect the revenue that would be generated at the site, as it has in the past — along with the kinds of changes that we can put in place — that it will pay for itself and be cost-revenue neutral."

Johnson Insurance agreed to provide the university with money going forward to "ensure that the fiscal model that we will have will not have any impact at all on our fiscal situation," Kachanoski said.

Gary Kachanoski says the Geo Centre will be "cost neutral." (CBC)

"Of course, as you might expect, we had to show the business plan to government and make sure that they understood that and they would have had to sign on, which they have, and we were very pleased that they were willing to do that."

Kachanoski said current Geo Centre employees have been offered "continuing contractual positions" during the merger discussions, until a long-term plan is in place.

As for why the university agreed to take on the centre, Kachanoski said it's in line with MUN's mandate on public education.

"We've committed to continue the public education programming at the site, and of course we have the ability to tap in to some very bright minds, new research and science that we can expand the programming in the future," he said. "The Geo Centre was always renewing installation components there, but now we've got quite a large expertise to be able to draw on to say, 'how do we continue to do that in the future?'"

Read more articles from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from On The Go

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