New home for Ocean Networks Canada takes shape

Workers are deconstructing the interior of a former Sisters of St. Ann home-care building now owned by the University of Victoria that will become the new base for research facility Ocean Networks Canada.

The $7-million renovation to the 1983 building is underway now that UVic has secured site-specific rezoning, allowing office and research use, from the District of Saanich for its six-hectare site at the corner of Arbutus Road and Queenswood Drive.

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“We are well on our way to be finished by April,” said Peter Kuran, president and CEO of UVic Properties.

Ocean Networks Canada was set up a decade ago for underwater research. It runs sensor cables along the sea bed to collect information about the marine environment. It was earlier awarded $46.6 million over five years through the Canada Foundation for Innovation.

UVic and the federal government teamed to cover the project’s relocation cost.

Once work is finished, the network will fill 16,000 square feet of the 27,000 square-foot space, Kuran said Thursday. The remaining area is to be used by a complementary tenant, not yet announced, from the university.

Victoria’s Kinetic Construction Ltd. is the construction manager on the Queenswood building. Tenders are being posted for components of the project. The most recent, for structural steel, closes Oct. 5.

The building, which has been vacant for years was built as a care facility with a retreat centre and chapel.

First on the agenda is deconstruction the interior. Seismic upgrading is a key part of the project, Kuran said.

Building materials are being salvaged for reuse by UVic and off-campus organizations, UVic officials told Saanich.

Consultation was carried out with neighbours. A traffic study found there will be a “negligible” impact on the neighbourhood.

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