An organization has been formed in Northern Manitoba’s largest city that has its sights set on making Thompson the premier location in the world for cold weather testing.
“With an average of 240 days a year of sub-zero temperatures, and up to six months of snow cover, Thompson has the potential to be the best outdoor cold weather test site not only in North America, but worldwide,” Thompson Chamber of Commerce president Dennis Green said in a media release announcing the launch of SubZero North, a not-for-profit organization, which will operate under the umbrella of the Thompson Community Development Corporation.
According to information on SubZero North’s website, Thompson’s average temperature in December, January and February is a frigid -28.2 C, and snow typically covers the ground in Thompson for at least six months of the year, with the community averaging 186 centimetres of snow every year.
“We like to say, if it works in Thompson, it will work anywhere,” TCDC executive director Connie Krahenbil said.
And according to the organization, Thompson — a city located more than 750 kilometres north of Winnipeg — was once considered a destination for commercial cold weather testing, as in the late 1980s companies including Ford and Chrysler as well as snowmobile and jet engine manufacturers came to Thompson to test their products in “extreme winter conditions.”
SubZero North will focus on the goal of “positioning Thompson into the testing ecosystem, by establishing partnerships with provincial, national and international organizations and businesses.”
The organization will also look to establish a winter weather campus in Thompson for testing and research.
“Focusing on its real-world conditions such as extreme cold weather, isolated community, and the beautiful boreal forest, SubZero North’s goal is to reinvigorate the cold weather testing industry, and attract industry leaders manufacturing electric vehicles, autonomous transportation, robotics and sensors for decades to come,” SubZero North said in its release.
The organization will look to also boost the entire cold weather testing industry in Manitoba by hosting a conference next month that will be held in both Thompson and Winnipeg.
The first Cold Weather Testing Conference, which will be hosted in partnership with Transport Canada and the National Research Council’s Community of Practice, will take place over three days in Thompson and Winnipeg Nov. 15-17.
The event will feature keynote speaker Dr. Jean Andrey, a professor at the University of Waterloo who focuses on “weather-transportation interactions” including road safety, winter maintenance practices, and the implications of climate change on transportation.
Also speaking at the conference will be Dr. Gordon Giesbrecht, a University of Manitoba professor commonly referred to as ‘professor popsicle’ who has made a name for himself with cold weather experiments that often involve submerging himself in frigid water for long periods of time.
— Dave Baxter is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the Winnipeg Sun. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the government of Canada.