Taxpayers paying $4.65 million for BioCommons' first building
Prince Edward Island’s BioCommons
Research Park will see its first structure taking shape over the
next three months but the manufacturing centre will only become a
reality because of a significant investment of taxpayers’ money.
The BioCommons Manufacturing
Centre will cost $4.65 million. The federal government is
contributing $2 million. The P.E.I. government is providing a
$2.65-million repayable loan.
CLICK HERE FOR VIDEO FROM THE BIOCOMMONS ANNOUNCEMENT
Premier Robert Ghiz defends the
investment even as his government tried to rein in spending to deal
with a $55-million budget shortfall. He said as tenants move into
the new facility and start to pay rent the province will get its
“There’s a lot of interest out
there already,” Ghiz told The Guardian.
“There’ll definitely be some
exciting announcements coming.”
Bioscience is a growing industry
in Prince Edward Island.
More than 100 new jobs have been
added in the industry last year, according to the P.E.I. government.
The industry, which tries to
commercialize products in the Island’s resource industries of
fishing, forestry and agriculture, has revenues of more than $80
The BioCommons Research Park, now
under construction in Charlottetown, is a 65-acre parcel of land
that the province hopes will allow it to capitalize on that growing
Bob Chapman, director of research for
the National Research Council in Charlottetown, said the new facility
will give new and emerging companies a place to setup and build their
products. He said his facility on the campus of UPEI is now full so the
new facility is badly needed.
“I imagine that you will see a
facility like this attracting some good tenants to the Island,” said
“You’ll probably see a facility like
this relatively quickly filled up.”
Jason Cleaversmith, who spearheads the
bioscience file for the province, said the facility will be home to five
companies to start. He said as those companies grow they will expand to
facilities outside of the manufacturing facility, which will make room
for new upstart bioscience companies.
“I think it will be those companies
that fit well with our core activity and focus on P.E.I., so those that
are involved in natural products, those involved in animal health, those
that are involved in the personal care area,” he said.
Not everybody is singing the praises
of the new building.
Opposition Innovation critic Mike
Currie said there is lots of vacant space that could have been used in
the West Royalty Industrial Park, which would have saved taxpayers
millions of dollars.
“I think they are scrambling to try
and find ways to quantify this prosperity plan which hasn’t achieved
anything but create a job for Michael Mayne,” said Currie, making
reference to the deputy minister of innovation.
“I don’t see the 2,000 jobs they
promised us. His prosperity plan has failed.”
However, federal Fisheries Minister
Gail Shea, a former Conservative cabinet colleague of Currie’s, praised
the investment, saying companies will go elsewhere if the facilities are
not here to meet their needs.
“It represents another step in the
growth of this industry,” said Shea.
“It shows there’s a commitment to
support technology and innovation, and to support diversifying the
economy. That’s so very important for a small province like Prince
Edward Island that we have a diversified economy.”
The 30,000-square-foot manufacturing
centre will be constructed adjacent to the Upton Road, near the West
Royalty Industrial Park.
Tim Banks’ APM Group will construct
Tenders were called on the project
Ghiz said with growing interest in the
BioCommons Research Park, he feels there may be a need to build more
“This is the first initiative. If this
building fills up in a hurry and more facilities are going too be needed
then we’ll have to build more buildings.”