ACOA funding will benefit NSCC campuses in Kentville, Middleton

Jennifer Vardy Little
Published on February 23, 2015

Among those taking part in the Feb. 13 ACOA funding announcement at NSCC Kingstec were, from left, Kings South MLA Keith Irving, representing the provincial government; Senator Kelvin Ogilvie, representing the federal government; NSCC Kingstec principal Isobel Madeira-Voss; and Dr. Tim Webster, an applied research scientist at the NSCC Annapolis Valley campus in Middleton. 

©John DeCoste

KENTVILLE - The Nova Scotia Community College and the Nova Scotia grape and wine and aquaculture industries will all benefit from federal funding announced Feb. 13 in Kentville.

Senator Kelvin Ogilvie announced $425,000 in funding to support two projects, one based in Kentville and the other in Middleton.

The funding, made available through the federal government’s Economic Action Plan, will be provided in installments over the next five years.

Ogilvie described the opportunities the funding will create as “holding great potential for the future growth of Nova Scotia’s rural and coastal communities.”

The NSCC Kingstec campus will partner with the Perennia Innovation Centre and the Nova Scotia Grape Growers Association to establish a learning vineyard and a winery applied-research facility that will enable students to acquire specialized knowledge that will contribute to the development of the sector.

The Nova Scotia wine industry, Ogilvie said, contributes nearly $200 million annually to the provincial economy. As the industry continues to grow, there is a need to develop specialized skills and focused research that will spur the sector’s productivity, diversity and ability to compete globally.

“The innovative vision and engagement of institutions like NSCC are essential to our economic, environmental and social prosperity,” Ogilvie said.

“To continue to maximize our economic success, we need smart, forward-thinking institutions like NSCC and its partner organizations who know that innovation which leads to new or expanded markets is the key to business growth.”

A portion of the funding will go to the NSCC Annapolis Valley campus in Middleton’s Applied Geometrics Research Group (AGRG).

The AGRG is currently testing the potential of new topo-bathymetric LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) mapping technology for application in Nova Scotia’s aquaculture, forestry and agriculture sectors.

Previously existing technology has allowed for the mapping of land, sea and coastlines. With the new topo-bathymetric LiDAR, said Dr. Tim Webster, an applied research scientist at NSCC Middleton, that mapping can be improved and enhanced.

Using aircraft-mounted lasers, detailed topographical scans of farmland, forest and the submerged coastal seafloors of oceans and lakes can provide information to assist in areas such as sustainable harvesting, the health of aquatic vegetation and the prediction of storm surges.

The inaugural testing of the new technology took place in September 2014, when a team surveyed the Northumberland Strait area using the new technology.

“We’ll be doing another mission in July, on a larger scale,” Webster said.

Ogilvie said the LiDAR technology “offers an opportunity to produce detailed information across the land and sea boundary – an area that has traditionally been under-mapped because of the expense and limitations of conventional mapping technologies such as aerial photography or echo sounders in the water.”

Kings-Hants MP Scott Brison was also on hand for the announcement.

“It makes sense for governments at all levels to invest in the grape and wine industry,” said Brison, who is a grape grower.

“No other industry has shown the same growth in rural Nova Scotia in the same period. When I was first elected in 1997, there were two wineries operating in Nova Scotia. Now there are close to 16.”

There has been similar, if not greater growth, in both the Okanagan region in B.C. and the Niagara region in Ontario.

Kingstec principal Isobel Madeira-Voss said “the collaboration is the most exciting thing. All our NSCC Valley sites are working together doing interdisciplinary work that that allow us to enhance the sector.”

The learning vineyard is located right across the street from the Kingstec campus and currently contains five varieties of grapes, “with space and room for more. Working with the industry in this way is very exciting.”