Canada rebuilding Arctic research stations

The Toronto Sun reports on Canada’s plan to rebuild its Arctic research stations as part of the $85 million Arctic Research Infrastructure Fund. The country’s main research facility is currently a creaky 45-year old building called the Aurora Research Institute in Inuvik in the Northern Territories. This station, along with three others, will be rebuilt and remodeled in the coming years.

Jean-Marie Beaulieu of the Canadian Polar Commission remarked, “While researchers welcome the new buildings, the next step is to make they’ve got enough money to run and ensure the scientists themselves are properly funded.”

He added,

“Our next step will be looking for operating money.”

This might be the telltale quote of the entire article. While most of the author’s tone is rather positive about the remodeling efforts, several Arctic scientists have voiced concerns that while facilities are being upgraded, little money is being directed towards actual projects. And of course, it would be difficult to maintain a state-of-the-art lab without a continuous stream of funding. In the frequently asked questions section of the Canadian government’s informational website, it says:

Q: Is there funding to support the operations and maintenance of these Arctic facilities?

A: No, funding for operations and maintenance will remain the responsibility of the organizations that manage the facilities and cannot be funded under the Arctic Research Infrastructure Fund.

As I wrote last February, some people have wondered if the funding will eventually be provided by oil or mining companies. This rumor hasn’t been substantiated, but in such a recession where government are short funds, it wouldn’t be all too surprising if Canada was forced to turn to the private sector to fund its research projects.

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