The Plant and Animal Health Centre located in B.C.’s Sumas Prairie will be rebuilt in a new, more secure location, says the B.C. government.
The current lab was heavily damaged in the flood of late 2021, and the government says that although it has largely returned to full operation, its location leaves it vulnerable to future flooding.
About 40 staff members work out of the lab, providing fee-for-service tests include pathology, bacteriology, serology, and molecular diagnostics and virology for veterinarians, livestock producers, the general public and other government agencies.
The new facility will support B.C.’s agricultural and veterinary sectors, including disease and virus diagnosis in wild and domestic birds, mammals, fish, reptiles and amphibians, as well as hundreds of plant pests and diseases.
Currently, more than 6,000 submissions are analyzed by the lab to diagnose, monitor, and assist in controlling and preventing diseases such as avian influenza, West Nile virus, and bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE). It is one of three laboratories in Canada accredited by the American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians (AAVLD) and one of two with AAVLD and International Organization for Standardization accreditation.
“We know how crucial it is for farmers to have access to prompt plant and animal health diagnosis locally,” says Pam Alexis, B.C. Minister of Agriculture and Food. “A new Plant and Animal Health Centre is part of our government’s commitment to help our agriculture sector succeed through challenging times.”
A new business plan is expected to be complete in late 2023 and will identify potential locations for the centre, as well as opportunities for additional supporting locations with specialized services in other parts of the province.