By Vern Faulkner
Saanich News
April 02, 2003

Business is booming at Vancouver Island Technology Park (VITP); building footprints and basic design plans have already been drawn up that would see the tech park's size more than double.

The then NDP-government spent $11 million to convert the old Glendale hospital into the VITP. But high tech companies shouldn't expect the province to kick in the cash needed to make the expansion so.

"I don't think its any secret at this point in time that resources are not there to do an expansion in the hopes of acquiring future growth at this facility," says Sandy Santori, the minister responsible for the BCBC, the tech park's landlord.

If a good business case can be made for expansion, the province might be willing to loosen its purse strings, but not without a significant investment from the private sector.

"When the demand is there for such a facility, we'll have to analyze what our role will be at the time, and what role the private sector is willing to play," Santori says. "For me to say 'we will do it' will be somewhat premature, but there will be a response to what I see as the kind of technology expansion we see today."

One hundred and fifty MDS employees Capital Region will soon relocate to the tech park, where they will join 20 genetic and protein-compound researchers from the University of Victoria Proteomics Centre.

Bob Breen, president and chief operating officer for MDS Metro Lab Services, doesn't think that there will be much need for the province to fund future growth at the tech park.

"Companies will move in," he says. "They'll be private sector companies for the most part. If they need to be here, they will find funding (for expansion). They will find ways of funding it that probably won't take a lot of provincial government support."

Breen says the industry has to learn to fend for itself. "We've got to learn to partner in such a way that we don't have to lean on the public purse to grow this economy."