North Saanich test tank facility

Photo courtesy NEPTUNE Canada

Underwater robotic devices will be happy: UVic’s own Marine Technology Center (MTC) on the Saanich Peninsula is busily constructing a new state-of-the art building that will house the new North Saanich test tank facility.

Until now, submersible testing has been carried out in a repurposed dumpster in the parking lot. Excavation for the new building has already started, and the new building should be ready for to open by the spring.

The new test tank facility at the Marine Technology Centre is one of just a few in Canada. Although the ocean is close by, testing of instruments and platforms needs to be completed in a smaller, more easily accessed volume, and so far NEPTUNE  have been using a large dumpster filled with salt water.


With our new facility, the dumpster is being replaced by a 5m x 5m, 3m deep tank and equipped with a chiller to keep the salt water within it cool. This tank will allow onsite testing of instrument platforms, nodes and most instruments. A small crane will be permanently installed next to our new tank permanently in order to lift and move smaller instruments. For very large instruments like nodes or our Veritcal Profiler System, a larger crane will be brought in to lift these heave delicate and very expensive instruments.

MTC is a University of Victoria initiative that is located at the heart of a growing marine cluster at Patricia Bay, in North Saanich. Neighbours include the federal government’s Institute of Ocean Sciences (IOS), and, including other nearby properties, to the Marine Technology Centre, the area offers nearly 80 acres of businesses and institutions devoted to developing and commercializing marine technology.

The Marine Technology Centre itself is home to the VENUS project and the NEPTUNE project; VENUS is the coastal network of the Ocean Networks Canada Observatory, and is a cabled undersea laboratory for ocean researchers and explorers. VENUS delivers real time information from seafloor instruments via fibre optic cables to the University of Victoria, and operations are located at the Marine Technology Center in North Saanich.

NEPTUNE is  the world’s first regional-scale underwater ocean observatory network that plugs directly into the Internet. People everywhere can ‘surf the seafloor,’ while ocean scientists run deep-water experiments from labs and universities anywhere around the world.

The new space at MTC is going to be shared with VENUS and the University of Victoria’s School of Earth and Ocean Sciences, Research Vessel Operations and Ocean Technology Test Bed (OTTB). The Marine Technology Centre as a whole is being developed to support and nurture the growth of the ocean and marine sector regionally.

Not only will this new test tank facility expand UVic’s current research and operational capabilities, but this infrastructure investment (including the North Saanich test tank facility) will help create the critical mass necessary for the Marine Technology Centre to become the regional hub for ocean and marine activity.