Sunday, 6 December 2009

Manitoba's Northern Research

Debby the Polar Bear

It was announced last week that a new polar bear research centre / display at the zoo could start as early as 2011. I blogged in detail back when Debby was on her last legs that this sort of centre is important. It will add to the quiet but growing northern research capacity in the province.

Thompson's Real-World Winter Weather Testing Centre of Excellence attracts international car makers and other transportation-related manufacturers from around the world to Manitoba. Most recently Honda announced that they have leased a facility in Thompson for their work.

This year, the Churchill Northern Studies Centre (CNSC) received $6m in funding from the province and up to $11m under the Arctic Research Infrastructure Fund for an expansion.

I spent some time at the CNSC a couple of summers ago and it's a fascinating place. Located 20 minutes outside of the town, the CNSC is actually the old U.S. Air Force Rocket Testing Range and you don't have to look very hard to see evidence of that:

Established in 1976, the Centre's vision is simple: To Understand and Sustain the North. They do this through a number of initiatives including direct research, public education and providing logistical / lodging support for independent and university researchers. About 125 scientists from over 20 universities use the Centre.

What struck me was the number of people I met there from around the world in the middle of summer. They came to Churchill on learning vacations or to volunteer their time to provide some amateur research assistance in one of the most unique ecosystems on the planet. (For more on learning vacations).

The Provincial money is largely to renovate the existing buildings and build new classroom and research space which is great news. The current site is still very much a rocket range, not a research centre. Many of the buildings are unusable due to deterioration or the custom-built purpose that they had.

Launch Building: 1956 and 2007

It's good to see that Manitoba is spending more time and money getting to know her north.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sorry for the shameless plug but a recent rendering of the new building is up on our website.