New facility will go to CamBay, Pond Inlet or Resolute

Tories put three places on short list for research centre


Cambridge Bay, Pond Inlet and Resolute Bay are the three candidates to play host to a promised High Arctic research centre.

Chuck Strahl, the minister of Indian and Northern Affairs, made the announcement in Iqaluit Feb. 20. He said scientists need a year-round facility located on the Northwest Passage and in the High Arctic to serve as a "centre of excellence" for polar research.

"[It will be] built by Canadians but will serve the world," Strahl pledged.

Strahl said there will be spinoffs for Nunavummiut in the form of construction, maintenance and scientific jobs.

The federal government will spend $2 million to study the centre's design needs and produce an estimate of what the project will cost. Strahl said that work should be finished in 12 to 18 months.

And Leona Aglukkaq, Nunavut's MP and the federal minister of health, predicted the station will allow Inuit Qaujimajatuqangiit to stand alongside southern science.

"This will be a big opportunity" to include Nunavummiut in research on wildlife and climate change.

Plans for the research centre surfaced in last month's federal budget, which also included $85 million to upgrade the existing patchwork of Northern research infrastructure.

"I'm extremely excited to have Nunavut as the primary focus of both of these [projects]," said Mary Ellen Thomas, senior research officer with the Nunavut Research Institute in Iqaluit.

In 2008, a report prepared by the Canadian Polar Commission called for the creation of a High Arctic research centre and upgrades to Northern research infrastructure.

"The current territorial infrastructure needs attention, ranging from upgrades to complete rebuilding," the report stated.

There's an existing patchwork of research infrastructure spread throughout the Arctic. Thomas said some facilities are owned by universities, while others are owned by various levels of government or local communities.

The $85 million in upgrades will strengthen that network of research stations, Thomas said.

She's also not worried that the new High Arctic station will take away from the work of the Nunavut Research Institute. Research depends on "location, location, location," Thomas said, so scientists must go where they want to study.

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