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Ex-Coast Guard Base In Dartmouth To Become Focus Of Ocean Research

Choice real estate on the Dartmouth waterfront will be developed to become a centre of ocean technology innovation.

The purchase of the roughly four-hectare site, formerly owned by the Canadian Coast Guard, is intended to allow the Waterfront Development Corp. to attract research and technology companies to the region.

The province announced Wednesday that the corporation had received approval to buy the land from the federal government for $6.5 million.

Premier Stephen McNeil called the deal an important step.

“We’re looking at some major investment,” McNeil said. “It’s what will be the hub for an ocean tech cluster.”

The site will provide opportunities to merge private-sector work with university research and “foster the continued growth of that sector.”

There will also be natural partnerships with companies doing offshore work, McNeil said.

Located at 27 Parker St., the property includes waterfront, over 850 metres of wharf, two 100-metre piers and buildings.

Colin MacLean, president and CEO of the corporation, said it is great to be doing something on the waterfront that will help create such a research facility.

“Waterfront property holds great strategic value for the province and our economy,” MacLean said. “This purchase creates an exciting opportunity to cluster ocean technology companies with Nova Scotia’s world-class marine research programs, enabling direct ocean access to support their work.”

The idea is for the corporation to seek out the expertise of industry and researchers to develop the centre and encourage an environment that can drive more investment, commercialization and exports.

The province says there are more than 200 companies involved in Nova Scotia’s ocean science and technology sectors, in areas like fisheries, aquaculture, offshore oil and gas, shipbuilding and maritime security. There is also ocean research conducted by Dalhousie University, Nova Scotia Community College, the Bedford Institute of Oceanography and the navy.

“Nova Scotia is home to some of the world’s best ocean technology companies,” said Jim Hanlon, CEO of the Institute for Ocean Research Enterprise. “Providing this new facility as a space for collaboration and waterfront testing will allow those companies to more effectively innovate and compete globally.”

Bernie Petolas, vice-president of operations for MetOcean Data Systems Ltd., said it is a great opportunity for collaboration among government, universities and private industry.

“The ocean community in Nova Scotia represents an important commercial sector.”

Martha Crago, vice-president of research at Dalhousie, was one of the driving forces behind the creation of a marine research centre.

“I’ve been interested because our researchers at Dalhousie often have links with industry, and this place would be the kind of place where you would grow an innovation ecosystem.”