Slow dawn for 'Age of Aquatarium'



“When the moon is in the Seventh House/And Jupiter aligns with Mars/ Then the tanks will fill with otters/And the lots will fill with cars.

“This is the dawning of the Age of Aquatarium... “

I'll spare you the rest.

Aquatarium board chairman Tony Barnes's “Age of Aquatarium” pun, for which he apologized to the media table in advance, was in fact more poorly received at the council table last night than the news, which was hardly news at all, that the facility will post a year one deficit of $117,000.

Such shortfalls are “normal” in a first year of operation, said Barnes, and council pretty much agreed.

To be fair, every small business owner knows such opening deficits are inevitable.

That hasn't stopped the usual bunch of online snipers, of course. One can already detect a note of schadenfreude in their posts about these supposed financial misfortunes.

The deficit is to be covered by a reserve fund, which in turn will be caved out of the capital fundraising campaign proceeds, budgeted at $3 million.

Sniping aside, this $117,000 deficit is not going to sink the Aquatarium. Not by a long shot. Anything that big is expected to run a deficit in its first year.

What I would worry about would be the firmness of that late-spring-early-summer opening date.

Many factors, to be sure, are out of the Aquatarium board's control, but the opening date of the Aquatarium, be it a “soft” or hard opening, has now been moved almost a full year since the days when we expected it to coincide with last June's Tall Ships Festival.

It has come to resemble one of those westbound road trips out of Ontario. We have now reached that point, somewhere around the turnoff to Kenora, where the signs indicating the distance to the Manitoba border actually seem to indicate we are getting further from it.

I have blogged on this subject in the past, suggesting delays beyond a fall 2013 opening date should be seen as the worry point.

And so here we are, months later and besieged with questions of the where-are-the-otters-anyway variety – questions I got answers to here.

Some people, I would imagine, are already worrying about this. And if these delays continue, these worries will extend to the financial realm and missed revenue opportunities.

Harmony and understanding will be in short supply, and sympathy and trust will not be abounding, either.