Archived - Status report on transformational and major Crown projects

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Canadian High Arctic Research Station


In the 2007 Speech from the Throne, the Government of Canada said the North was a land of both opportunity and challenge. It proposed an integrated Northern Strategy to strengthen our sovereignty, protect our environmental heritage, promote our economic and social development, and improve and devolve our system of governance. A key deliverable was the government's commitment to "build a world-class Arctic research station that will be on the cutting edge of Arctic issues, including environmental science and resource development. This station will be built by Canadians, in Canada's Arctic, and it will be there to serve the world." In August 2010, the Prime Minister announced Cambridge Bay, Nunavut as the location for the Canadian High Arctic Research Station (CHARS).

On August 23, 2012, the Prime Minister announced a new investment for the station project's next phases: $142.4 million to build, equip and fit up the research station, and $46.2 million over six years to phase in the Science and Technology Program. As of 2018–2019, the government has set aside another $26.5 million a year for program and operating costs.

A contract to build the station was awarded in spring 2014, and on August 23, 2014 the Prime Minister took part in a ceremony to launch its construction.

The station should be up and running by 2017 (in time for Canada's 150th anniversary) and fully commissioned by March 2018.

Project outcomes

  • This project will give researchers a world-class science and technology platform in Canada's Arctic. The business case will use performance indicators to determine if this goal has been reached.
  • Project beneficiaries will include scientists, Northerners, and all Canadians.

Industrial benefits

  • The station's design and construction will create jobs in Nunavut's Kitikmeot region, throughout the North, and in specialized sectors in southern Canada.
  • The initiative will meet Canada's consultation and procurement requirements under the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement Act, including Inuit and Northern involvement in its construction. Demand for goods and services will benefit local and regional businesses, and the construction manager will offer an Inuit Benefits Plan that respects land claim requirements.
  • Through involvement in the station's planning and construction, Northerners will gain new skills and career experience.

Sponsoring department

Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada

Contracting authority

Public Services and Procurement Canada

Participating departments

Not applicable

Prime contractor

The construction contractor is the EllisDon Corporation (Ottawa, Ontario, Canada) in joint venture with NCC Dowland Ltd. (Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada).

Major subcontractors

Subcontracting is managed by the EllisDon Corporation (Ottawa, Ontario, Canada).

Project phase

Construction: Two triplex accommodations buildings and the Field and Maintenance Building are complete. The Main Research Building is currently under construction. Commissioning will be complete in 2018.

Major milestones Date
Creation of CHARS announced Speech from the Throne 2007
CHARS feasibility: $2 million over 2 years Budget 2009
CHARS design: $18 million over 4 years Budget 2010
Cambridge Bay location announced by Prime Minister August 2010
CHARS mandate announced by Minister December 2010
Feasibility study September 2011
Request for proposal (RFP) for design consultant tendered September 2011
RFP for design consultant closed November 2011
Design consultant proposals evaluated — Phase 1 December 2011
Seek decisions on construction funding Winter 2012
Design consultant proposals evaluated — Phase 2 February 2012
Design consultant contract announced August 2012
RFP for construction management services tendered November 2012
RFP for construction management services closed December 2012
RFP for construction management services evaluated January 2013
Site announced in Cambridge Bay February 2013
Consultation with Cambridge Bay residents February 2013
Construction management contract for advisory services awarded June 2013
Complete design development Winter 2014
Complete land acquisition in Cambridge Bay Spring 2014
Begin construction Fall 2014
Finalize design 2014–2015
Complete triplex accommodations Fall 2015
Complete field and maintenance building Spring 2017
Complete main research building Summer 2017
Commissioning complete 2018
Transfer assets To be determined

Progress report and explanation of variances

  • This Major Crown Project is set to be operational by July 2017 and should be fully commissioned by 2018.
  • The estimated cost by 2018–2019 of designing, building, equipping and fitting up the station, and having Polar Knowledge Canada implement the Science and Technology Program, is about $250 million.
    • INAC is responsible for the project to design, build, equip and fit up the station — an estimated cost of $204.8 million.
    • The remaining $46 million to implement the Science and Technology Program was provided by INAC and is now administered by Polar Knowledge Canada.
    • By 2018–2019, Polar Knowledge Canada will operate the station and oversee the program at an estimated cost of $26.5 million per year.

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