VICTORIA – Federal-provincial funding totaling $600,000 has enabled the completion of the business centre at the Vancouver Island Advanced Technology Park in Saanich, which officially opened today.

The funding announcement was made by Environment Minister and Victoria MP David Anderson on behalf of Stephen Owen, Secretary of State (Western Economic Diversification) (Indian Affairs and Northern Development); Oak Bay-Gordon Head MLA Ida Chong on behalf of Competition, Science and Enterprise Minister Rick Thorpe; and Saanich South MLA Susan Brice on behalf of Management Services Minister Sandy Santori, who is minister responsible for the BC Buildings Corp. The funding was provided to the Vancouver Island Advanced Technology Society under the Western Economic Partnership Agreement.

"The business centre in the Vancouver Island Technology Park is exactly the type of facility Canadians need to foster business excellence and take on the world with their products and ideas," said Minister Anderson. "The high-tech industry is the third-largest employer in the Greater Victoria area, and the investment in the technology park will ensure that it continues to grow and the region prosper. Federal funding for this initiative demonstrates one example of Canada's Innovation Strategy in action."

"The funding for the centre is in keeping with our New Era vision of making British Columbia a global magnet for high-tech investment, growth and job creation," said Chong. "We are building an exciting, modern economy that extends the benefits and opportunities in technology to every family and community in British Columbia."

The U.S. Green Buildings Council presented a Gold Award for leadership in environmental and energy design to representatives of the BC Buildings Corp. BCBC is the park's owner and manager.

Only three Gold Awards have been issued worldwide under the leadership in environmental and energy design program. The award recognizes the green adaptations within the buildings, grass and gravel parking lots, storm-water recovery systems, power purchased from methane gas conversions, public transportation agreements, bike paths and landscaping.

"The province is committed to creating common-sense solutions to the environmental challenges facing British Columbia and the world at large," said Brice. "This building shows that we can safeguard the environment while promoting economic development."

To date, five leases have been signed with high-tech companies. VIATeC, Camosun College, the University of Victoria and Royal Roads University have partnership agreements that open the door to learning opportunities for students and research and development companies.

"The federal-provincial contribution to the business centre indicates the importance of building a flexible centre that provides market-rate space and equipment that is open to the entire business community," said VIATeC president Doug Taylor. "This tech park is a huge benefit for students and new technology firms moving into research and development."

Programs and services will be financed and undertaken by the private sector. The centre includes offices for the partners; a wired, multi-purpose conference room for 95 people; a video-conferencing boardroom; and a marketing resource room to display products and services to the technology industry.

The 14-hectare tech park is next to the Interurban campus of Camosun College and the Victoria Horticultural Centre. The 15,300-square-metre business complex offers flexible, efficient and versatile space for biotechnology, high-tech manufacturing or information technology uses.

The Canada-British Columbia Western Economic Partnership Agreement is a joint multi-million-dollar agreement to encourage economic development and job creation in British Columbia. The federal department of Western Economic Diversification Canada and the provincial Ministry of Competition, Science and Enterprise are the lead agencies for the partnership agreement.

Federal funding for this project was provided for in the December 2001 budget and is therefore built into the existing fiscal framework.