Prince Albert Satellite Station receives upgrade

Alex Di Pietro
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The Prince Albert Satellite Station will receive two new antennae as part of a $39-million initiative by the federal government, the Minister of Natural Resources Joe Oliver announced on Friday.

Minister of Natural Resources Joe Oliver announced Friday that the Prince Albert Satellite Station would be receiving two new antennae.

“In total, the Government of Canada is investing almost $39 million over the next three years and four new antennae — two here in Prince Albert and one each at our other two facilities, as well as a data-management system,” Oliver said.

Natural Resources Canada also operates satellite station facilities in Inuvik, N.W.T., and Gatineau, Que. The Prince Albert station has been operating since 1972, with this year marking the 40th anniversary.

According to Oliver, the majority of the work is being done by Saskatchewan-based high-tech company SED, a division of Calian Technologies Ltd.

“By replacing 20th century equipment with 21st century technology, we will ensure that Canada is able to receive and fully use data for the next generation of earth-observing satellites that Canada will launch,” Oliver said.

While he couldn’t disclose the details regarding job numbers, Oliver said the new funding would help support innovation of Canadian businesses and entrepreneurs.

“There will be more scientific evaluation because (there will be) more data,” he said. “People will be involved here and elsewhere in monitoring and using it in Saskatchewan and throughout Canada, and really, internationally as well.”

The upgrade is expected to develop more complete scientific data in real time pertaining to Canada’s land, water and borders and will be used for environmental monitoring and emergency response.

Oliver said Canada is a leader in the research of global-positioning systems, geospatial data and remote sensing.

“Canada’s geomatics industry contributes $2.8 billion to our economy and employs 23,000 highly skilled specialists,” he said. “The type of information that this industry produces is of the greatest practical value.

“We use geospatial data to make Canada safer, protect the environment and manage public health,” he continued. “In the case of forestry, satellite imagery is helping to fight wildfires and monitor the pine-beetle infestation in B.C.”

Oliver went on to say that satellite technology is also valuable for emergency responses, stating that the Department of Natural Resources provided daily analysis of satellite images to provincial officials managing the Red River flooding in Manitoba.

“There are many other applications for earth-observation data and many more are being developed all the time,” he said. “In fact, business is booming as we enter a new stage and new age of satellites.”

Prince Albert MP Randy Hoback reflected Oliver’s sentiments.

“The reinvestment shows how important this station is to the country of Canada,” he said. “Being in the position of Prince Albert, it creates jobs. And it’s well-paying jobs that are located right here in the riding.”

The second instalment of the Natural Resources Transfer Agreement National Summit, which concluded in Prince Albert on Thursday, addressed issues surrounding natural-resource extraction, such as environmental impacts and revenue sharing with First Nations.

Delegates and chiefs at the summit expressed their discontent at feeling left out of government decisions pertaining to the extraction of natural resources.

Oliver said the federal government’s newly introduced Responsible Resource Development plan, which received royal assent on June 29, is based on four pillars, including strengthening environmental protection and enhancing Aboriginal consultation.

“Integral to the new legislation … is to broaden, enrich and make more meaningful and participatory, the consultation with Aboriginal communities,” he said. “We want to bring Aboriginal communities in as early as possible to the process of resource developments, so that they can be part of what’s going to be happening going forward.”

The funding for the new Canadian Satellite antennae is part of Canada’s Economic Action Plan 2012.

Oliver also said that, over the next 10 years, more than $500 billion could be invested in resource development across Canada.

Organizations: Prince Albert, Natural Resources Canada, Calian Technologies Ltd. Department of Natural Resources First Nations Canadian Satellite

Geographic location: Canada, Inuvik, Gatineau, Que Saskatchewan Red River Manitoba

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