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Construction of new Centre for Plant Health underway in North Saanich

Federal government announced $80 million toward replacement in April 2018
May Sam (left), an Elder with Tsartlip First Nation performs a blessing during the Sept. 22 groundbreaking for the Centre for Plant Health. Construction of the new facility will start this fall with completion scheduled for 2025. (Photo courtesy of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency)

A new research facility in North Saanich promises to support agriculture by advancing research into plants.

Work on the new Centre for Plant Health (also known as the Sidney Laboratory) started Sept. 22 with a blessing performed by Elders from local First Nations as part of a ground-breaking ceremony attended by representatives of the federal government and three local First Nations (Tsartlip, Tseycum and Tsawout). Plans call for completion by 2025.

The federal government in April 2018 announced $80 million toward the replacement of the existing facility in North Saanich, just east of East Saanich Road overlooking the Salish Sea, with a new state-of-the-art one. According to a release, the new centre represents the first step to supplying Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) scientists with the facilities to help advance their scientific work, considered to be of national importance. The centre is Canada’s only post-entry quarantine, research and diagnostic facility dedicated to the protection of tree fruit, grapevines and small fruit, according to the release.

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“By ensuring that imported plant material is free from diseases, developing new DNA-based testing, and keeping a repository of confirmed virus-free vines, the Centre for Plant Health protects plant resources and the natural environment from pathogens, viruses and other plant diseases,” it reads. “These services are essential to Canada’s agricultural and agri-food sector.”

The release also says that the facility demonstrates environmental leadership and a commitment to honouring local First Nations. Artists from local First Nations will incorporate Coast Salish stories into the design and artwork of the site and buildings.

Plants used in the landscaping will be native or locally adapted species that take inspiration from Indigenous stories and traditional uses.

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Wolf Depner

About the Author: Wolf Depner

I joined the national team with Black Press Media in 2023 from the Peninsula News Review, where I had reported on Vancouver Island's Saanich Peninsula since 2019.
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