Federal government to pay $93M for Dalhousie University ocean centre

The federal government is set to announce a seven-year $93.7-million ocean research project in Halifax on Tuesday, CBC News has learned.

The government will announce a mystery donor, too

Earlier this year, Dalhousie made its case during a campus visit by federal Science and Technology Minister Kirsty Duncan. (CBC)

The federal government is set to announce a seven-year $93.7-million ocean research project in Halifax on Tuesday, CBC News has learned.

The announcement also promises a dramatic finale to one of the more intriguing mysteries in Canadian academia — the identity of a mystery donor. That person has pledged funds for an Ocean Frontier Institute if the federal government comes through with funding.

Sources tell CBC News the Ocean Frontier Institute project will be led and headquartered at Dalhousie University in Halifax. That will be in partnership with UPEI and Memorial University in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Competition for funding

Dalhousie University has scheduled a news conference Tuesday with Treasury Board president Scott Brison.

The program will be funded through the Canada First Research Fund.

Universities will apply and compete for funding from the program. CBC News has been told the next competition will take place in 2021/22. 

This is the second time Dalhousie has tried to launch the program. The Harper government rejected the school's first application. 

Earlier this year, Dalhousie made its case again during a campus visit by federal Minister of Science Kirsty Duncan.

Anonymous donor

The proposal has intrigued academia since the business website AllNovaScotia.com revealed that an anonymous private sector donor was willing to put money into the project, if the federal government came on board with funding from the Canada First Research Fund.

CBC has been told the anonymous donor will be revealed Tuesday, adding a dimension of interest not usually associated with government announcements.

The Ocean Frontier Institute would bring together international scientists, students and industry to focus on issues, such as climate change, reversing fish species collapses and evaluating the sustainability of aquaculture, the university said.

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Paul Withers

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Paul Withers is an award-winning journalist whose career started in the 1970s as a cartoonist. He has been covering Nova Scotia politics for more than 20 years.