PEI

UPEI's new climate research facility in St. Peters starting to take shape

Work is progressing on UPEI's new Canadian Centre for Climate Change and Adaptation in St. Peters Bay, P.E.I.

The 36,000 square foot building will include research and teaching spaces, as well as a drone port

The Canadian Centre for Climate Change and Adaptation is expected to be completed by the end of 2021. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

Work is progressing on UPEI's new Canadian Centre for Climate Change and Adaptation in St. Peters Bay, P.E.I.

The new multi-million dollar research facility will be UPEI's first satellite campus outside of Charlottetown.

The 36,000 square foot building will include research and teaching spaces, as well as a drone port.

Research centres, like the UPEI Climate Research Lab, will have spaces available.

UPEI's Canadian Centre for Climate Change and Adaptation will sit overlooking St. Peters Bay. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

There will also be two floors of residence space for more than 40 full-time students, with the ability to bring in visiting researchers from around the world.

"We know right now that there will be students. There'll be visiting faculty, researchers out there," said Jackie Podger, vice-president administration and finance at UPEI.

"We wanted to provide them with the availability to actually live and study in the same place."

Locals to benefit

The facility also has a view overlooking St. Peters Bay and is expected to have an impact on the community.

Mayor Ronnie McInnis says there will be many benefits of having the Canadian Centre for Climate Change and Adaptation in the community. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

"Well, I don't think a building of that size has been built in the community since the school was built back in '66," said Ronnie McInnis, mayor of St. Peters Bay.

He said local businesses will benefit from the influx of people working and living in the community. 

It will also help with having research done in their own backyard at the Greenwich portion of the P.E.I. National Park and how to adapt local agricultural practices for climate change.

"Like other small rural communities, we struggle to have some young people around so we are very excited about that," McInnis said.

"And the opportunity it presents in dealing with climate change and what the future holds for us."

The new facility will be near the P.E.I. National Park in Greenwich. (Jane Robertson/CBC)

McInnis said the economic spin-offs could take years to pick up speed but some local businesses are already seeing an uptick.

"We've had construction crews coming for lunch, or just ordering their lunch and taking it up there," said Rick Renaud from Rick's Fish 'n' Chips & Seafood House

"We're going to make some changes inside and extend our season into November right now and hopefully for around-the-year business."

Local businesses have already noticed the change with the construction going on and expect to adapt to having more people in the community year round. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

University officials call St. Peters Bay an ideal place for climate change research, with wetlands, beach dunes and farm fields nearby.

Land for the $14-million facility was donated to the university by local property owners.

In keeping with a focus on climate change, UPEI officials said the energy-efficient building will have a potential for a near-zero carbon footprint.

The building is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

More from CBC P.E.I.

With files from Brian Higgins

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