Cambridge Bay gears up for new High Arctic research station
Station set to open in Nunavut community in 2017
Cambridge Bay is preparing for an economic boom, as it anticipates the new multi-million dollar Canadian High Arctic Research Station, known as CHARS.
Even though construction won’t start until the fall of 2014, people are getting ready for the influx of work and people.
The station will be a world-class research hub located just steps from the hamlet.
General contractors in Cambridge Bay are learning what it will take to build it.
Ottawa plans to spend just over $142 million to build and equip the station, and construction alone could add 150 jobs.
"All the heavy equipment and the concrete work, all the piles, all that equipment is locally here that they can get a hold of. It's going to be huge," said Peter Laube, a general contractor who is one of many who hope to cash in on the building contracts for the facility.
The Department of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development says the facility, once built, will house between 35 to 50 seasonal, part-time and full-time staff members who will operate the Science and Technology program at the station.
It's still in the conceptual design phase; there are no blue prints yet and there's still much discussion on what kind of science will be studied.
Community expects influx of 400 people over next 5 years
The community of about 1,600 people now needs more housing for construction crews, and later for scientists.
The hamlet is trying to assess how big the boom will be; Jim MacEachern, the hamlet’s economic development officer, expects Cambridge Bay will grow by as many as 400 people over the next five years.
Local businesses are taking stock.
"We've been focused pretty heavily on getting quite a few new materials into the store new product lines making sure we've got every category covered off," said Keven Wasylyshyn, who manages Kitikmeot Supplies, the local hardware store.
Nunavut Arctic College educators are helping to build a local workforce by bringing back an environmental technology program to Cambridge Bay.
"So we start delivering in 2015, and we hopefully graduate in the spring of 2017 and they will be employed by CHARS," said Fiona Buchan-Corey, the Dean Arctic College’s Kitikmeot campus.
The mayor, Jeannie Ehaloak, said the research station will be good for the local economy.
"The mining industry flux — I mean it's up and down, it all depends on stocks. But at least with CHARS you know the employment is there at least."
The station is scheduled to open in 2017.