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Our history

PSEC’s location at what is now known as Sandy Cove in West Vancouver has a rich history. Prior to European contact, the site was the location of a First Nations village and its waters were prized as a source of abundant rockfish, salmon and other fish species.

Proximity to Fraser River salmon runs and access to fresh water from Cypress Creek made the site equally attractive to industry, and beginning in the late1800s the Defiance Cannery (renamed Great Northern Cannery in 1927) had operations at Sandy Cove. Generations of workers and their families lived on-site at the cannery, which was known in the local community as “the walled city.” By the mid-1960s, a less profitable fishing industry and new regulations for canneries led the Millerd family, which then owned the cannery, to agree to sell it to the Government of Canada on the condition it be used as a research facility.

In 1970, the Pacific Environment Institute (PEI) opened its doors; it was subsequently renamed the West Vancouver Laboratory. Early research focussed on ocean pollution, fish culture and physiology, habitat capacity and enrichment methods. Scientists at this time were instrumental to understanding the impact of pollution on western Canadian aquatic habitats and their work informed many control and mitigation efforts.

In the mid-2000s, a working partnership with the University of British Columbia was formed and lab was renamed the Centre for Aquaculture and Environmental Research (CAER). Research at this internationally recognized research facility centred around fish culture and physiology, biotechnology risk assessment and the environment. The formal partnership spanned 6 years, but co-operation with UBC and other institutions continues.

Today, CAER’s reputation for research collaboration continues as the site undergoes yet another transformation: this time into the Pacific Science Enterprise Centre.

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