By: Andrew Duffy
Times Colonist

 

A new $21-million building for the Vancouver Island Technology Park and the first ocean technology park in North America are two shovel-ready projects Dale Gann is hoping will be funded as part of the federal government's $40-billion stimulus package.

Gann, vice-president of the Vancouver Island Technology Park and president of the Association of University Research Parks in Canada, just returned from meetings in Ottawa, and said the two buildings would create jobs for hundreds of construction workers and provide an ongoing benefit to the country.

Gann said he met with Gary Goodyear, minister of state for science and technology, and Marc Garneau, Liberal critic for science and technology. "Both recognize and realize that as Canada looks for infrastructure investments that will continue to give back and enable the economy to grow, that the research parks in Canada have an opportunity to assist in that regard," he said.

Gann said the technology park, located on the former Glendale hospital site off West Saanich Road, adjacent to Camosun College's Interurban campus, has long been planning a new 88,000-square-foot building that could house 500 high-tech employees.

He is also part of the development team putting together a master plan for the ocean engineering and energy centre that would be housed across the street from the Institute of Ocean Sciences in Sidney. As it's still early in the planning stages, there is no estimated cost attached to it, though Gann said it will be well in excess of $20 million.

But there could be a slew of projects from the country's research parks looking for funding over the next two years.

Gann said the board of the Association of University Research Parks in Canada will return to Ottawa to discuss the projects, which could be ready within the next few years.

 

"The research parks have a solution and it's not just one project in one corner but projects coast to coast in Canada," said Gann, noting the total cost could exceed $450 million.

 

Whether enough money is available remains to be seen. Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said about $2 billion would be available for university infrastructure as part of his spending package.

Gann applauded the investment and was hopeful the government would broaden the definition of infrastructure.

 

"We refer to knowledge-based infrastructure as an investment with proven return," said Gann, noting the annual economic impact of Canadian research parks is over $3 billion, with approximately 18 per cent in the form of direct taxation to government.

 

aduffy@tc.canwest.com