(NC) The great white north is about to get a little bit greater. A new High Arctic research station in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, first announced by the federal government in 2007, is scheduled to begin construction this year. The Canadian High Arctic Research Station, or CHARS, will advance Canada's knowledge of the Arctic in order to improve economic opportunities, environmental stewardship and the quality of life of northerners and all Canadians.
Scientists will research the changes taking place in the North to better understand the forces at work and to explore how best to prepare for and adapt to what the future holds.
Inuit elders, leaders and other residents have been and will continue to be involved in the design of the building and in sharing their traditional knowledge with scientists. CHARS, which is set to be operational in 2017, will also act as a meeting place and anthropological brain trust of sorts for local customs and traditions.
Recently, architectural designs and 3-D models were presented to community members. CHARS architect Alain Fournier of FGMDA Architects in Montreal says Inuit knowledge and culture inspired the design of the new $142 million research station.
“We were asked to plan a state-of-the-art, world-class research station that would function efficiently and be sustainable and make a strong Inuit cultural statement,” says Fournier. “We took into account that the station will be in the High Arctic, in difficult, remote conditions so we designed smart, meaning we designed like the Inuit did, which is what allowed them to survive for thousands of years.”
The construction and future operations of CHARS will deliver direct benefits for Cambridge Bay and the surrounding area in terms of employment and service contracts. The world-class research station will employ about 150 people locally across the North and in more specialized sectors elsewhere in Canada during construction, and between 30 and 50 full-time scientists and support staff during operation.
“This multimillion dollar project is going to have a huge economic impact on Cambridge Bay,” says Fiona Buchan-Corey from the Nunavut Arctic College. “We are very excited about the jobs during and after construction, as well as potentially grooming people to take over research positions at the centre.
“We also envision complementary services such as outfitters who could potentially take researchers out on the land to do their research. It's also hopefully an opportunity to help us deal with some very real issues that we have in the north such as energy use and waste disposal.”
The research, training and outreach activities will provide northerners with skills and experience to better participate in the labour force, from mining and energy through natural resource and wildlife management, to health and life sciences.
Canadians who would like to learn more about the CHARS can visit www.science.gc.ca/chars.