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Renewing the Sidney Centre for Plant Health

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The Government of Canada is investing in the renewal of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency's (CFIA's) Sidney Laboratory (Centre for Plant Health) on Vancouver Island.

This project is part of the broader Laboratories Canada strategy, as it meets the strategy's guiding principles and vision.

The Sidney Laboratory is located on the traditional territory of the W̱SÁNEĆ peoples, which include the W̱JOŁEŁP (Tsartlip), the W̱SĺḴEM (Tseycum), the SȾÁUTW̱ (Tsawout), the BOḰEĆEN (Pauquachin) and the MÁLEXEȽ (Malahat) First Nations.

Why the Centre for Plant Health is being renewed

Most of the Centre for Plant Health (CPH) buildings were constructed between 1912 and 1961. Because of a combination of age and design, parts of the facility are in need of upgrades. Retrofitting is not possible due to the structural integrity of the buildings. Some buildings will eventually be phased out and demolished as part of the renewal project. Details relating to timelines and what exactly will be demolished are still to be determined.

The CPH renewal project will support Canadian agriculture and trade, strengthen scientific partnerships, protect the environment and contribute to the CFIA's excellence as a science-based regulator. Partnership and collaboration with other scientists at the new facility, including with universities, other federal government departments, provincial governments, research organizations and industry partners, will play an important part in supporting national priorities and initiatives for plant health.

The new facility will provide a modernized, rapid response to testing for regulated plant diseases, improving Canada's capability to detect these diseases earlier and more accurately. The new facility will also promote scientific collaboration, which will help advance research in plant science and support innovation in the agricultural and agri-food sector.

Estimated timelines

A site-blessing and groundbreaking ceremony took place in September 2022. Initial construction began in October 2022.

The project is anticipated to be completed in 2025.

Project contractors

A construction management contract was awarded to PCL Lab Solutions in October 2020. Construction management includes planning, costing, scheduling, procurement and construction services.

An architecture and engineering design contract was awarded to Architecture 49 and WSP in October 2020.

Project design

The architectural and engineering consultants have designed the new facility to complement existing buildings and the history of the CPH. The design meets scientific needs and sustainability objectives and is targeting a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold certification, providing a framework for a healthy, efficient and cost-saving green building.

As part of the Greening Government Strategy, the building is designed to be a net-zero carbon facility with the modernized facilities expected to save 200 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) annually.

Climate resilient design features include:

The project team is also working with artists from local First Nations to incorporate Salish stories into the design and artwork of the site and buildings. Plants used in landscaping will be native or locally adapted species that take inspiration from Indigenous stories and traditional uses.

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