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  • Manini Sethi

Here’s Why Cape Breton Needs CBU’s Center for Discovery and Innovation and What You Can Do to Help.

In October 2020, Cape Breton University announced its plan for developing a 80 million dollar research and instructional facility on its campus. The Center for Discovery and Innovation (CDI) is expected to give Cape Breton a much needed boost in the post-covid economy by attracting domestic and international students and by supporting the expansion of the nursing and public health program.

President and Vice Chancellor of CBU, David C. Dingwall says that while the CDI is "shovel ready”, the development of the Centre is contingent on significant provincial and federal funding. He urges community members to support this cause by urging local and provincial leaders by lobbying for it in order to secure funding.

President Dingwall calls for support for the CDI on social media. Source:

The Centre for Discovery and Innovation is not only expected to benefit CBU, but it will also play a significant role in boosting the economy and diversity of Cape Breton by facilitating collaboration between CBU and indigenous communities, governments and businesses and by expanding opportunities for national and international research partnerships.

While Cape Breton's economy did recently witness a growth spurt, it still has a long way to go. The island has an unemployment rate of 16.7%, which is worrying especially when compared to the national average of 5.5% (All figures are from February 2020, before the impact of the coronavirus pandemic). CBU is confident that an investment in education and innovation, such as the CDI, will play a significant role in building a strong foundation for Cape Breton's economy.

A model of CDI as presented in CBU's press conference.

The CDI is to expected to be built between the Verschuren Centre and the Shannon School of Business by demolishing the Arseneau-Britten building, which is a 50 year old science building on campus. According to CBU, the CDI will feature a collaborative research laboratory, an applied learning laboratories for public health, a nursing simulation center, a learning studio, a cooperative rapid manufacturing and robotic laboratories with a makerspace, a community innovation hub, and The Marshall Institute which will enable research pertaining to Indigenous rights and justice.

According to Amrinder Singh, President of Cape Breton University Students Union, a lot of labs and infrastructure at CBU is out dated and not up to the mark when compared to many other Canadian universities. He adds that this new building would be one of the best ways for CBU to invest in its students as it will help them get a competitive advantage when they graduate and go out into the real world. According to Melissa Deane, a faculty member of CBU's engineering department, the CDI is not just a potential growth builder, but an "absolute necessity", especially since enrollment in the engineering department has seen a significant growth in the recent years wand is now one of the highest enrolled departments in CBU. She adds that in the past few years, due to overbooking of the labs, many engineering sections at CBU did not have access to a lab in most of their classes and had to do their lab courses on pen and paper in the classroom on most days. This unavailability of lab spaces leads to inconsistency in the learning environment for students. Melissa adds that the current situation is unfair to students and future students of CBU and that they "deserve better".

Melissa Deane, CBU Engineering Instructor

If you want to show your support for the Center for Discovery and Innovation, you can:

▲ Sign the petition *here*

▲ Write to local government representatives to urge them to advocate for provincial and federal funding for the Center for Discovery and Innovation. Find mailing addresses for local leaders *here*

▲ Call local government representatives. You can find their telephone numbers *here*

▲ Share your story. Tell Caper Times why you think the Center for Discovery and Innovation would benefit CBU and Cape Breton. If you have personally been affected by the overbooked labs at CBU, send us your story on and we will publish your story in our next publication.

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