Jim Watson: Canada Science and Technology Museum renovation a 'missed opportunity'
Ottawa mayor had pushed for a new museum in a more central location
Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson is critical of how the federal government made its decision to renovate the Canada Science and Technology Museum.
Heritage Minister Shelly Glover announced $80.5 million for more than two years of renovations to the museum on Monday, promising to replace its asbestos-filled, leaky roof, upgrade the exhibit space and put up a new façade, amongst other plans.
The work will keep the museum off Saint Laurent Boulevard closed until sometime in 2017.
- Canada Science and Technology Museum remains closed due to mould
- Canada Science and Technology Museum to be upgraded, reopen in 2017
- Canada Science and Technology Museum: no layoffs, refunds during renovations
On Wednesday, Mayor Watson said the government "blind-sided" the city with its decision, as he had been promoting the idea of a new museum in a more central location.
"The government’s made that decision and we obviously have to be grateful for the $80 million investment, but I do think we missed an opportunity to have a much more vibrant museum," he said.
"My preference would have been that there would have been some proper consultation with the community and with the science and tech industry to see if there is private sector investment that could come to the table to help build a truly national science and tech museum that we can be proud of."
John Baird, the minister responsible for the National Capital Commission, had said in late September that there was no money immediately available, but a new museum was among the "endless" possibilities for a parcel of land near the Canadian War Museum at Lebreton Flats.
However, both Glover and Alex Benay, CEO of the Canada Science and Technology Museums Corporation, said on Monday that a new museum would cost hundreds of millions of dollars, so renovating the existing site made the most sense.
In a statement issued to CBC News on Wednesday, Glover's office added that east Ottawa is an "innovation corridor" that also includes the National Research Council and the Canada Aviation and Space Museum.
Benay also said the process of planning and building a new museum would take five to 10 years, compared to the maximum of a little more than three years possible in their window of a 2017 reopening.