Government of Canada announces investments to monitor Canada’s marine environments and for new science facility

News release

Minister Wilkinson speaking at the grand opening of the Ocean-Climate Building at UVic’s Queenswood Campus.
Minister Wilkinson speaking at the grand opening of the Ocean-Climate Building at UVic’s Queenswood Campus.

January 10, 2019

Victoria, British Columbia - As part of its commitment to ensuring that economic progress and environmental sustainability go hand in hand, the Government of Canada has and will continue to partner with ocean scientists, academics, nongovernmental organizations, coastal communities, Indigenous groups and industry to deepen knowledge of our oceans and how best to protect them. The Government of Canada recognizes the environmental, economic and recreational importance of our oceans. Sustainable management of our oceans and ocean resources requires that we continually advance our scientific understanding of these great water bodies, and the Government of Canada is committed to giving scientists the resources they need.

Today, the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, announced $12.6 million in funding over four years to Ocean Networks Canada (ONC), a national network of ocean observation systems based at the University of Victoria. This investment will strengthen high-quality, real-time data on our marine environment to support the work of scientists throughout Canada and around the world.

In particular, this investment will build on ONC’s ocean noise monitoring program and will expand its monitoring of sea surface currents in Pacific waters. This data will help inform our efforts to protect the endangered Southern Resident Killer Whale and will help make our oceans safer by improving navigation and emergency response.

Minister Wilkinson, on behalf of the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, the Honourable Navdeep Bains, also marked the official opening of the University of Victoria’s recently opened Ocean-Climate Building and highlighted the Government of Canada’s $3.5 million contribution from its Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund. The program provides funding to help modernize facilities at Canadian universities and colleges, as well as improve their energy efficiency and reduce their impact on the environment. The new $9.5 million facility also includes investments of $5.15 million from the University of Victoria and $850,000 from the Province of British Columbia.

Minister Wilkinson also toured the nearly 30,000-square-foot building which provides an interdisciplinary, collaborative space for the University of Victoria’s ocean, climate change and data management research programs. It is now home to more than 200 researchers, co-op students, scientists and staff, who will conduct vital research into the effects of changing oceans and climate. The upgraded and centralized facility will enable researchers and their partners to produce science, technology and evidence-based solutions that will bring social and economic benefits to Canada, such as furthering climate change adaptation practices and advancing the blue economy.

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“The Government of Canada has had a long and productive relationship with the University of Victoria and Ocean Networks Canada. Canada’s investments, including those announced today, will help further our work with the University of Victoria and ONC to better support measures implemented through the Oceans Protection Plan and improve safety in Canadian waters. These investments will also help us better understand our oceans and improve our efforts to protect their health and sustainability, while also aiding efforts to address the effects of climate change and protect aquatic species for our kids and grandkids.”

The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard

“The Government of Canada knows that economic prosperity and environmental sustainability go hand in hand. Today’s investment in the University of Victoria research facilities is giving researchers the capacity to innovate and discover, while increasing global demand for solutions to climate change.”

The Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development

“The University of Victoria is pleased to partner with the Government of Canada in the protection of our country’s oceans. ONC’s sensors and data management system position Canada as a unique international leader in ocean observing and technology. These systems collect and share essential data that is critical for improving marine safety, understanding the impacts of ship noise and monitoring critical ocean habitats. This important work is headquartered out of our new Ocean-Climate Building, made possible by federal and provincial government infrastructure funding. It provides UVic with a new centre for its world-leading research and collaboration among one of the country’s largest concentrations of oceans and climate research.”

Jamie Cassels, QC, President, University of Victoria

“Ocean Networks Canada has a robust partnership with Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and this new agreement further enhances this strong collaboration. Together, we will be delivering data and data products that not only help to meet the goals of the Ocean Protection Plan, but also advance Canada’s leadership in ocean intelligence on the global stage.”

Dr. Kate Moran, President and CEO, Ocean Networks Canada

“The new Ocean-Climate Building is preparing for 21st century careers in a diverse, strong, sustainable 21st century economy. By working together, students, researchers and businesses, along with Indigenous nations, play a vital role in protecting our environment. Research produced at UVic will improve our quality of life, help B.C. rise to the challenge of climate change and support our plan for a better, cleaner future.”

Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training and Member of the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia

“With nearly 30,000 square feet dedicated to vital research to fight and adapt to climate change and to protect our oceans, the new Ocean-Climate Building will help make a real difference. These facilities will help over 200 researchers, scientists and students collaborate, discover and plot a path forward to a cleaner, more sustainable province.”

Spencer Chandra Herbert, MLA for Vancouver-West End

Quick facts

  • The new funding to Ocean Networks Canada is in addition to an earlier investment of $7.2 million, announced in October 2017, to support ocean monitoring efforts through the Oceans Protection Plan. The $1.5 billion Oceans Protection Plan is the largest investment ever made to ensure our coasts are healthier, safer and better protected.

  • The Ocean-Climate Building is a renovated and repurposed former residential care home. The extensive renovations include new electrical, sanitary and waterworks connections, fibre optic networks, seismic upgrades and a flexible interior wall system to provide both collaborative and individual workspaces

  • Ocean Networks Canada is among the front-line organizations now headquartered in this multi-partner facility. It is also home to the new World Data System International Technology Office, which manages, connects and coordinates information. The Canadian Centre for Climate Modelling and Analysis – part of the Climate Research Division of Environment and Climate Change Canada – will also be located here.

Associated links


Jocelyn Lubczuk
Press Secretary  Office of the Minister of Fisheries, Oceansand the Canadian Coast Guard

Media Relations
Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Dani Keenan
Press Secretary
Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development

Media Relations
Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada

Janice Nienaber
Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training
250 208-4560

Denise Helm
Director of Media Relations and Public Affairs
Communications + Marketing
University of Victoria
T 250-721-7656
C 250-888-0784

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