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Second satellite farm in works
Businessman seeks to make town a technology hub

Sarah Ladik
Northern News Services
Thursday, April 21, 2016

A new, privately owned satellite facility may be on the horizon for Inuvik.

NNSL photo/graphic

Tom Zubko says he's been working on getting satellite dishes into the community since before the federal government was involved and that he wants to see Inuvik become a hub for science and technology. - Sarah Ladik/NNSL photo

"It's complementary, not competitive," said Tom Zubko, the contractor facilitating the purchase and development of the land for the new satellite station. "It opens up the market to a broader set of customers."

Zubko, who represented a registered numbered company before town council last week in order to purchase land near the weigh scales on the highway, said there can be barriers for customers to get space in the existing satellite facility owned by the federal government.

He named engineering standards as a hypothetical reason, but also said financial concerns may play a factor.

"If you want to build a house, you need to own the property to get financing from the bank," he said. "A couple of clients found they were having trouble with some of the requirements . from my understanding, they negotiated (with the federal government) and it didn't work out."

The Drum sought clarification on what some of the requirements may be for the federal site and was told all satellite dish owners have to adhere to certain regulatory procedures.

"The requirements for groups to use the federal satellite station are the same as for any satellite station in Canada," stated Tania Carreira Pereira, a communications officer with Natural Resources Canada. "Permits and licenses must be obtained from the appropriate regulatory bodies in Canada. Groups using satellite stations in Canada, including the station in Inuvik, are required to obtain approvals from all necessary regulatory and permitting organizations, at the municipal, territorial and federal levels."

Pereira did not provide an explanation of what the differences may be for a privately owned facility.

The plan for the new site includes one large dish and eight smaller ones, but Zubko said there would be room for expansion. He wants to see Inuvik grow its role as a centre for technology and innovation, building on a base of current research facilities.

"There's more private capital going into space now," he said. "What's really blossomed in the last few years is entrepreneurship in space. There's a lot of things happening just under the surface, and having a second site here could help put Inuvik on the map for those developments."

Peter Clarkson talked about the impact the current facility has already had on the local economy at a Chamber of Commerce event April 14.

He said about $40 million has already been spent there. About half of that money has stayed in the community. Furthermore, it was the tipping point for the fibre optic line, which will hopefully reach Inuvik in about a year.

Zubko has long seen the potential for development in the sector, working since 2007 to get satellite technology based in the community.

"It's still not a very big business, but it's coming along," he said. "There's great potential for opportunity for the town . From the town's point of view, there's no real difference; business is business."

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