The lieutenant-governor of British Columbia visited the Institute of Ocean Science (IOS) in North Saanich, Friday.
The Honourable Janet Austin toured the cluster of bases overlooking Patricia Bay that fall under the IOS umbrella and attended talks from some of the scientists and researchers who work there.
Dave Prince, director of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) led the tour, which included stops at the Geological Survey of Canada and the Coastguard’s operations centre. As they walked, he utilized many of the building’s pictures, murals and floor displays, to help bring his colleagues’ work alive.
Prince was joined by Neil Dangerfield, acting manager of ocean sciences at the DFO, who talked passionately of his department’s work and how they monitor the changing acidification levels in the Pacific and the damaging effects on marine life.
As the tour snaked into the inner parts of the IOS building, Austin stopped to ask questions of the scientists and people she met along the way. Soon the party came to the Geological Survey of Canada section, where they were met in front of a colourful display indicating every major earthquake on the B.C. coast over the last century. Acting director, Adrienne Jones, gave a comprehensive overview of the work of her department, including the geological history, processes and hazards affecting Western Canada.
One of the highlights of the tour were three excellent presentations from DFO staff. Scientist Hauke Blanken explained the function of the department’s home-made ocean drift trackers, which help advance knowledge of spill patterns and ocean currents. Affectionately known as “Sponge Bobs,” due to their zany design and distinctive colouring, Blanken demonstrated the features of a model to Austin. Next up were fascinating talks from Mark Leblanc and Elizabeth Bonner, two E-navigation specialists on the Canadian Hydrography Service. They explained the latest techniques in mapping the ocean floor, triangulating the position of ships and supporting the Pacific Tsunami Warning system.
The penultimate stop featured talks from managers Terry Speed and Chad Stroud at the Coast Guard Marine Communications and Traffic Services centre. Located in a dark room with banks of computer screens, the centre houses the marine version of air traffic controllers. The high-tech facility is the busiest of its kind in Canada, dealing with 45 per cent of all marine traffic country-wide, predominately vessels over 20 metres in length. Fifty-seven staff are employed at the centre and due to the advanced equipment, staff can handle up to 40 problematic situations a day.
The final stop of the tour was the cafeteria, where Austin met Tseycum First Nation members who run the catering and their Chief Tanya Jimmy.
Austin said she enjoyed learning about the IOS work.
“The complex work carried about by the staff here is vital to the safety and harmony of our waters. I was also honoured to break bannock with Chief Tanya Jimmy of Tseycum First Nation and learn about how she is working with the Ocean Sciences Institute to create economic and social development opportunities for her community.”
Austin was joined on the tour by Lt.-Cmdr. Simon Brown (honorary aide-de-camp), Jerymy Brownridge (private secretary) and Chantelle Krish (director of communications).