Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut September 26, 2012 - 6:38 am

Planning for CamBay’s Canadian High Arctic Research Station intensifies

Designers, planners and programmers visit Cambridge Bay to discuss CHARS

JANE GEORGE
Mike Townsend from the Nunavut Planning Commission (third from left) shows maps from the draft Nunavut Land Use Plan to architect Alain Fournier (far left) and other members of the planning and programming team for the Canadian High Arctic Research Station Sept. 25 in Cambridge Bay. (PHOTO BY JANE GEORGE)
Mike Townsend from the Nunavut Planning Commission (third from left) shows maps from the draft Nunavut Land Use Plan to architect Alain Fournier (far left) and other members of the planning and programming team for the Canadian High Arctic Research Station Sept. 25 in Cambridge Bay. (PHOTO BY JANE GEORGE)

CAMBRIDGE BAY — It’s five years and counting until the Canadian High Arctic Research Centre opens in Cambridge Bay in 2017.

Last month, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said his government plans to spend $188 million on CHARS and its science and technology program: $142.4 million over the next six years on the construction, equipment and start-up costs for the CHARS, and $46.2 million over the next six years on its science and technology research program.

Harper also announced the winning bidder for the design of the station: two Montreal-based architectural firms — NFOE et associés architectes and Fournier, Gersovitz, Moss, Drolet et associés, which has designed air terminals in Iqaluit, Kuujjuaq and Puvirnituq as well as the recently-opened community science centre in Kuujjuaraapik.

Now, planning efforts for Cambridge Bay’s future research facility, known by the acronym CHARS, are revving up.

And that’s why project organizers from Ottawa, architect Alain Fournier and others involved in the planning, construction and programming of CHARS are visiting Cambridge Bay this week.

They’re meeting with groups like the local CHARS committee, the Nunavut Planning Commission and elders, and, on Sept. 26, with members of the public, at a 7 p.m. meeting at the Luke Novoligak community hall.

There, they’ll tell people more about CHARS.

Here’s what they can say about CHARS:

• CHARS will likely be based in one central building accompanied by some smaller out-buildings;

• the CHARS infrastructure will cover about 8,500 square metres;

• CHARS will need staff accommodation for transients, short-term researchers and permanent workers;

• several sites in Cambridge Bay are still under consideration for CHARS; and,

• in 2013, CHARS will open an office in Cambridge Bay.

Residents of Cambridge Bay will be involved in every step towards CHARS, the visiting team said at a Sept. 25 meeting.

“It’s a process,” said architect Fournier, who plans to return in November to brainstorm preliminary designs.

Some of the infrastructure needed for CHARS, such as storage buildings, could be built by public-private partnerships, while some short-term accommodations could be shared with Nunavut Arctic College.

“We don’t need to own everything,” said Nick Xenos, the director of Arctic Science Policy Integration at Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada.

Many contracts involved in the construction and maintenance of the facility are likely to go to local companies to respect Article 24 of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement, which says governments must help Inuit-owned businesses get government contracts.

Among the unknowns: whether competition for skilled workers will affect the construction of CHARS, what languages CHARS will use, and if the science program will continue to focus on climate change, sovereignty, and new technology.

The involvement of other countries in CHARS could change its future financing and focus, Xenos suggested.

The facility will incorporate state-of-the-art technology and leave room for new additions and it will be an inviting place where students can visit “and get excited about science and technology,” officials said.

 

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