The long-awaited meeting of November 23, organized by Lana Popham (and her assistant, Samuel Godfrey, whom she has committed will stay on to help the “stakeholders”), occurred as scheduled. I suppose that one does not want to be overly optimistic, but it seemed to me to have been a success.
In attendance from RASC Victoria Centre were Chris, Lauri, SId, Roy, Malcolm, Jim and Betty Hesser, and me. In a nutshell, we early-on stated our position, as understood had been decided by counsel, to be that we would continue to provide volunteers for Saturday night viewing, with the understanding that 1) we could not provide security, and 2) only if the Plaskett was open for tours by the public, given that the large telescope is what draws most people up the hill.
The NRC VP from Ottawa also stated his position early on, and clarified and reiterated it a number of times, it being this: NRC has “no appetite” for spending new money on the CU, but neither does it have any plans to “decommission” the CU building, or turn off the heat, or empty it, or stop providing security for it. This led everyone to conclude that the CU could be used by any of the parties there, subject to terms being negotiated, so long as NRC did not have to spend anything on it, a conclusion with which he did not disagree. He seemed to say specifically that NRC providing security on the hill, and for the CU building itself, was the same as providing security for our Saturday night endeavors. How the Plaskett would be tended to on Saturday nights was left for discussion with local NRC staff.
Each of us from Victoria Centre had something to say. Insurance, advertising, and other issues were all discussed. I felt our participation was much appreciated, and we seem in the driver’s seat insofar as what has been our traditional role is concerned, no matter who or what it is that may have something to offer beyond night-sky viewing and a tour of the mighty Plaskett.
Everyone seemed to think that night-sky viewing could resume next spring. Both long and short-term committees were set up to make sure that our momentum is not lost: Lauri and Chris are on the short-term committee, and I am on the long-term committee. A meeting of the short-term committee is in the offing, and I’m sure the long-term group will be meeting after the holidays.