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Trudeau announces funding to build nuclear medicine hub in B.C.

The new 2,500-square-metre building in Vancouver will house a particle accelerator

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced federal funding Thursday to build a hub for nuclear medicine at Canada’s national particle accelerator in Vancouver.

Trudeau made the announcement after meeting employees and touring the TRIUMF site, which is a joint venture of a consortium of universities.

He said the Institute for Advanced Medical Isotopes will provide a first-of-its-kind facility in Canada where scientists and industry partners will work together to advance research including drug development and cancer therapy.

The new 2,500-square-metre building will house a particle accelerator, research facilities and laboratories.

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Trudeau said the facility will help Canada stay a leader in medical isotope research.

“We know that for our country to lead in an ever-evolving economy and create the jobs of tomorrow, we have to invest in our scientists and in the institutions that support them,” he said.

Medical isotopes are safe radioactive substances used to diagnose and treat conditions of the heart, circulatory system and organs, allowing scientists to see what is happening inside the body in a non-invasive way.

The new facility is valued at more than $50 million and is also supported by contributions from the British Columbia government, BC Cancer Foundation, the University of British Columbia and funding from philanthropists.

Trudeau was also scheduled to meet on Thursday with Vancouver mayor-elect Kennedy Stewart and Doug McCallum, who was recently elected the mayor of Surrey.

McCallum ran on a promise to scrap plans for a light rail transit system in Surrey and instead wants a SkyTrain line from the city centre to neighbouring Langley.

In September, the federal and British Columbia governments reiterated their commitment to funding two major rapid transit projects in Metro Vancouver including the LRT line in Surrey.

Ottawa and B.C. are spending more than $3 billion on the projects, which will see 5.7 kilometres of track and six stations added to the SkyTrain subway line along Broadway. Eleven new stations will be built along 10.5 kilometres of street-level track in Surrey, which would create the first light-rail system in B.C.

RELATED: Newly developed 3D printed tissues could advance cancer research

Asked if the federal government would spend any additional money in Surrey to build a SkyTrain line, Trudeau said: “Our approach on infrastructure projects has never been that Ottawa knows best. We always have believed that working with folks on the ground, locally elected representatives who tell us and who know best what the needs of their communities are.”

Trudeau said there are a number of new mayors in the Lower Mainland who will be discussing their plans.

“And I can commit that the federal government will be there as a partner as they determine their priorities,” he added.

Laura Kane, The Canadian Press

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