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Invasive species centre receives second nod.

The push to establish a Sault Ste. Marie-based research institute to fight insect pest control problems is receiving encouraging signs from the federal government.

Errol Caldwell, executive director of Science Enterprise Algoma (SEA), says the effort to build an invasive species centre has entered a second phase in preparation an operational plan and implementation strategy. The centre would be the lead agency in Ontario to fight pest control problems in forestry, urban environments and Great Lakes aquatic species.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans already operates the Sea Lamprey Control Centre in the Sault. Caldwell says the Sault also has existing research capacity with two world-class forestry labs. "That's part of the rationale why we think this is the best location for a centre."

So far, the provincial Ministry of Natural Resources and the City of Sault Ste. Marie have contributed $25,000 each toward the study. Fisheries Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency have each chipped in $10,000. Some federal departments are participating only with in-kind contributions.

"We just want more buy-in from the federal departments," says Caldwell. "They need to be convinced that this centre's rationale is good, and what we're proposing makes sense."

Caldwell is spearheading an effort to commercialize forestry research in the Sault and integrating all the related governmental organizations under one roof.

The project's consultants, Metropolitan Knowledge International of Toronto, are conducting interviews with officials from Environment Canada, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, Natural Resources Canada, plus some professional groups to get their views on the proposed centre's organization and structure.

To reconfirm his case, Caldwell pitched his case in Ottawa before senior bureaucrats on an invasive species committee last July. He outlined the economic and ecological benefits derived from stemming the spread of the emerald ash borer, sea lamprey, and zebra mussels from devastating Canada's forest and aquatic ecosystems.

"Federal support is essential for this to happen," says Caldwell. "We know the province is behind it."


Northern Ontario Business
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Author:Ross, Ian
Publication:Northern Ontario Business
Date:Nov 1, 2006
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