Work on $18.5M climate change research centre to begin in April

More details were announced Friday about the Canadian Centre for Climate Change and Adaptation.

The project was first announced in July 2019. It will be part of the University of Prince Edward Island, and the UPEI Climate Research Lab will move there.

The plan is for students to be able to graduate with a bachelor of science in applied climate change and adaptation, which officials say will be the only degree of its kind in the world.

The focus of this education will be on food production and sustainability, the impact of climate change on humans and animals and its impact on coastlines.

There will also be opportunities for professional training and internships.

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The 45,000 square-foot facility will have research, teaching and learning spaces. There will also be 50 residence rooms, made up of both one- and two-bedroom suites.

Officials said the North Shore community of St. Peters was chosen not only because of its access to wetlands, but that the UPEI campus in Charlottetown doesn't have enough resources or space for the expansion.

In a separate building there will be a drone port where the school's fleet of drones will be housed, maintained, and operated from.  

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"Only eight kilometres away from where our building will be is the Greenwich Park adjunct. And it's a really wonderful place. It's like a living laboratory for us researchers because there's grassland, there's forests, there's wetland and there's beach environments," said Adam Fenech, associate dean of the school of climate change and adaptation.

"It gives us a really immediate place that we can go and study and teach our students of how climate change is impacting the natural environment." 

Net-zero energy-use buildings

The goal is to develop net-zero energy-use building and meet green building standards. Plans also include working with local First Nations, agricultural communities and providing grade-school programming.

Officials are also looking for feedback to see what needs to be considered in the facility's construction and design.

"I think it's very important when you are working with the community to ensure that the community is informed about every step in the way," said UPEI president Alaa Abd-El-Aziz.


He said while the school is looking for the community's feedback he isn't anticipating any concerns. 

"St. Peters residents have been wonderful in giving feedback." 

While concept drawings haven't been finalized, crews are expected to break ground in April.

The $18.5 million project is being jointly funded by the provincial and federal government and is expected to be completed by September 2021.

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