The National Bee Diagnostic Centre in Beaverlodge will be going through a major expansion thanks to funding from the provincial and federal governments. $3 million from Ottawa and $1.5 million from Alberta will help cover the cost of building 890 square metres of lab and classroom space, with the college picking up the other $1.5 million.
“Since we’ve started the bee diagnostic [centre], the response in terms of demand for analytics has gone through the ceiling, so we’re basically tripling the size of the facility to meet the current need,” explains Grande Prairie Regional College President Don Gnatiuk.
The NBDC officially opened in 2012 and began collecting client samples in April 2013. Researchers look into pests, parasites and pathogens that are affecting bees, as well as applied research into bee health for the industry. Gnatiuk argues this expansion will continue to put the college and their work on the map.
“To be able to cohabitate [with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada] in a facility and to do like-minded research is pretty exciting for us. It’s creating opportunities for our faculty; it’s creating opportunities for our students; it’s a huge win for us.”
Construction is expected to take a year, and Gnatiuk says the pile foundation is already going in.
Earlier in May, the National Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada again gave GPRC $150,000 for the NBDC. This year the funds are going to the Technology Access Centre for a Laboratory Information Management System.
Work is also underway renovating the GPRC’s main campus’ science wing labs. $1.6 million from the federal government will see the wing gutted, upgraded and filled with modern equipment. The Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund matches up to 50 per cent of the cost, so the college will be responsible for the rest.
“The labs are long overdue for an upgrade so we’re investing heavily in getting that right,” explains Gnatiuk.
The plan is to have the modernized labs up and running for fall classes. Both projects are expected to create 120 jobs in the area.