Celebrating a site blessing and ground breaking at the Centre for Plant Health

News release

Participants at the ground breaking ceremony. From left to right: Joseph Seward, W̱JOŁEŁP (Tsartlip) Councillor; Duncan Retson, Associate Assistant Deputy Minister, Public Services and Procurement Canada; Josh Girman, Manager of Indigenous Relations, PCL Construction; Diane Allan, Vice-President of Science, Canadian Food Inspection Agency; Rachid El Hafid, Director of Summerland Research and Development Centre, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.
Participants at the ground breaking ceremony. From left to right: Joseph Seward, W̱JOŁEŁP (Tsartlip) Councillor; Duncan Retson, Associate Assistant Deputy Minister, Public Services and Procurement Canada; Josh Girman, Manager of Indigenous Relations, PCL Construction; Diane Allan, Vice-President of Science, Canadian Food Inspection Agency; Rachid El Hafid, Director of Summerland Research and Development Centre, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.

September 22, 2022 – North Saanich, British Columbia

Federal investments in science infrastructure are protecting and enhancing Canada's agriculture, trade and economy. A site blessing performed by Elders from local First Nations and a ground breaking ceremony marked the start of construction for a new plant health diagnostic and research facility at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency's (CFIA) Centre for Plant Health in North Saanich, British Columbia. A modern, built-for-purpose greenhouse and header house will improve efficiencies, increase capacity and support a stronger plant science network in Canada.

The Centre for Plant Health, also known as the Sidney Laboratory, is located on the traditional territory of the BOḰEĆEN (Pauquachin) and the MÁLEXEȽ (Malahat) First Nations, and of the W̱SÁNEĆ peoples, which include the W̱JOŁEŁP (Tsartlip), the W̱SĺḴEM (Tseycum) and the SȾÁUTW̱ (Tsawout) First Nations. Representatives from these First Nations were in attendance at the ceremony. May Sam, a W̱JOŁEŁP (Tsartlip) Elder, gave a prayer and blessing in SENĆOŦEN, the regional dialect of a Coast Salish language. The event also included a celebration song by W̱SÁNEĆ drummers.

The Centre for Plant Health is Canada's only post-entry quarantine, research and diagnostic facility dedicated to the protection of tree fruit, grapevines and small fruit. The scientific work at the Centre for Plant Health is of national importance. By ensuring that imported plant material is free from diseases, developing new DNA-based testing, and keeping a repository of confirmed virus-free vines, the Centre for Plant Health protects plant resources and the natural environment from pathogens, viruses and other plant diseases. These services are essential to Canada's agricultural and agri-food sector.

The new facility is a first step to providing CFIA scientists and collaborators with state-of-the-art amenities and modernized tools to advance plant science while supporting Canadian agriculture, global trade and economic growth. The facility will also promote scientific collaboration to help advance plant health research and innovation.

The design of the facility demonstrates environmental leadership and a commitment to honouring local First Nations communities. For example, artists from local First Nations will incorporate Coast Salish stories into the design and artwork of the site and buildings. Furthermore, plants used in the landscaping will be native or locally adapted species that take inspiration from Indigenous stories and traditional uses. Construction will begin in fall 2022 and is anticipated to be completed by 2025.

This project will support Canadian agriculture and trade, strengthen scientific partnerships, protect the environment and contribute to the CFIA's excellence as a science-based regulator.

Additional multimedia

May Sam (left), a W̱JOŁEŁP (Tsartlip) Elder, gives a prayer and blessing.
May Sam (left), a W̱JOŁEŁP (Tsartlip) Elder, gives a prayer and blessing.
W̱SÁNEĆ drummers perform a celebration song.
W̱SÁNEĆ drummers perform a celebration song.

Quotes

"The work of our researchers is critical to making our agriculture more resilient and sustainable. By investing in our laboratories, we are giving our scientists the infrastructure and tools they need to continue to protect the agriculture and agri-food sector, as well as our economy."

– The Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

"The work of scientists at the Centre for Plant Health is often Canada's first defence against pathogens including viruses and plant diseases. Equipping our scientists with state-of-the-art facilities and tools is key to keeping Canadians, agri-business and the environment safe."

– Dr. Siddika Mithani, President of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency

Quick facts

  • Laboratories Canada is a 25-year strategy that will deliver on its vision to strengthen federal science in Canada. Budget 2018 launched the first phase of this strategy with an investment of $2.8 billion to support federal scientists with the important work they do for Canada.

  • The Centre for Plant Health renewal project is part of the broader Laboratories Canada strategy, as it meets the strategy's guiding principles and vision.

  • As the lead on the Laboratories Canada strategy, Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) is leading on project delivery and construction, on behalf of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).

  • PSPC awarded a construction management contract to PCL Lab Solutions and an architecture and engineering design contract to Architecture 49 and WSP. Both contracts were awarded in October 2020.

Associated links

Contacts

Media Relations
Canadian Food Inspection Agency
613-773-6600
cfia.media.acia@canada.ca

Media Relations
Public Services and Procurement Canada
819-420-5501
media@pwgsc-tpsgc.gc.ca

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