CamBay gets highly coveted Arctic research station
Mayor says it’s like winning Stanley Cup
Cambridge Bay is the winner in the three-year long sweepstakes for the right to become home to the Canadian High Arctic research station.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper, stuck in Churchill, Man. because of weather, made the announcement there Aug. 24.
“By building this leading-edge research station, we are advancing Canada’s knowledge of the Arctic’s resources and climate while at the same time ensuring that Northern communities are prosperous, vibrant and secure,” Harper said in a statement.
The statement went on to say the station “will create jobs, strengthen Canada’s Arctic sovereignty, promote economic and social development and it will help protect and understand the northern environment, contributing to the overall quality of life for Northerners and all Canadians.”
Syd Glawson, Cambridge Bay’s mayor could barely contain his excitement in a telephone interview.
“I feel like Cambridge Bay just won the Stanley Cup,” he said. “Everybody in the community is pleased.”
The research centre — first announced in the 2007 federal budget — is to be a year-round operation, hosting researchers working in numerous disciplines. It’s expected to create as many as 55 jobs.
Resolute Bay and Pond Inlet were also in the running for the centre. Premier Eva Aariak said she’d understand if those two communities were disappointed by losing out on the centre, but said the research station is good news for all of Nunavut.
“I’m hoping that our own Northern people will be able to take part in doing some research work,” she said in a telephone interview from Cambridge Bay.
“We get a lot of people from outside of the North who come up to do research and I know that will continue. But at the same time I think we will have more opportunities for our own young people.”
Glawson said the research station could be worth as much as $81 million to the local economy, a potentially huge boon for local contractors.
But Glawson’s also hopeful that the facility will lead to infrastructure improvements, particularly a new dump, badly-needed upgrades to the hamlet’s airport and a new dock, so Cambridge Bay could more easily host research vessels, cruise ships and sealift ships.
He said he’s already started lobbying the federal and territorial ministers who were present for the announcement Aug. 24 for the money to build that infrastructure.
“I just told them ‘loosen your purse strings, because I’m going to be asking,’” Glawson said. “Cambridge Bay has got to have these things. It’s not a matter now of wanting to have these things. We have to have them in order to proceed.”
Harper was to make the announcement in Cambridge Bay as part of a five-day Arctic tour, but Leona Aglukkaq, Nunavut’s MP and the federal health minister, and John Duncan, the new Indian and Northern Affairs minister had to stand in for the prime minister.
It was unclear if the weather was going to improve sufficiently for Harper to emerge from a log-cabin hotel in Churchill for a flight to Resolute Bay, where he was expected Aug. 25 to speak to members of the Canadian Forces participating in Operation Nanook.
Glawson said he was disappointed Harper couldn’t make it to Cambridge Bay for the announcement, if only because the mayor missed a chance to give the Prime Minister a hug.
“I don’t know how he would have reacted it to it, but the way I feel right now, I don’t care.”
Listen to a video of Harper’s Aug. 24 announcement about the High Arctic research station in Cambridge Bay at http://bit.ly/5YZbjK.
With files from Postmedia News