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With its ubiquitous natural beauty, the country’s most temperate climate and a laid-back, urban feel, Victoria is undeniably among Canada’s most alluring and picturesque destinations for conferences. What isn’t apparent about the oldest city in the Pacific Northwest—but is even more notable—is it is a leading centre of excellence for Ocean Science research and innovation, and a top spot to host conferences in this sector.

Located on the doorstep of the Pacific Ocean, Victoria boasts more than 100 sector-related organizations, providing conference planners ready access to local innovators and thought-leaders who can help champion conferences and events. Indeed, connecting conference planners with local champions not only provides opportunities for collaboration and interesting networking opportunities for the host organization, it can also help grow membership and fuel conference attendance.

“We have seen the positive effects of connecting our Conference delegates with local industries and experts in our key sectors to create opportunities for collaboration and engagement,” says Miranda Ji, vice president of sales for the Victoria Conference Centre & Business Events Victoria.

Ocean Optics, a leading manufacturer in optical technologies, held its annual meeting in Victoria and saw a significant jump in exhibitors over previous years—a by-product of the region’s diverse and innovative ocean sciences sector.

“I know this increase was due to the concentration of organizations and companies involved in oceanographic research in Victoria and other areas of British Columbia,” said Jennifer Ramarui of The Oceanography Society.


University of Victoria’s Deep Dive into Ocean Sciences

When it comes to educating, and shaping current and future generations in the sector, the University of Victoria, renowned for its Earth and Ocean Sciences program, is on the leading edge both in Canada and abroad. Globally, it ranks 39th—and first among Western Canadian schools—in the field of Oceanography in the Academic Ranking of World Universities.

Ocean Networks Canada, a University of Victoria initiative, is among the world leaders in ocean science research, innovations and technology. ONC operates two ocean observatories—NEPTUNE and VENUS—in the northeast Pacific Ocean and the Salish Sea, collecting and providing vital data for researchers in their study of earth and marine environments. ONC’S Innovation Centre also developed the underwater listening station (ULS), which monitors underwater noise to support and protect marine life, the environment and coastal communities.

With more than 250 scientists and researchers on staff, the Victoria-based Institute of Ocean Sciences is one of the country’s largest marine research centres and has gained international acclaim for its contributions and expertise in the field.  A benefit of hosting conferences in Victoria: visiting organizations can tap into the city’s vast and varied knowledge base in ocean sciences.

Ramarui agrees, “The proximity of the Victoria Conference Centre to the University of Victoria was an important factor in selecting Victoria as the conference location. Faculty and students from that institution are quite active in the study of optical oceanography.”


Rising Innovators

Contributing to Victoria’s reputation as a world leader in ocean innovation and technology: AML Oceanographic which designs and manufactures instrumentation and deployment systems for hydrographic surveying; A.G.O. Environmental Ltd. manufactures equipment used in the geophysics, oceanographic, environmental and survey industries; Marine Renewables Canada, which provides energy solutions to world markets; and Marine Labs, a provider of real-time monitoring of ocean conditions.


Meet in Victoria

With expertise across all aspects of Ocean Sciences, Victoria’s conference infrastructure includes some 225,000 total square feet of meeting space (73,000 at the Victoria Conference Centre). This harbour city’s compact downtown allows conference-goers to move quickly and efficiently between hotels, meeting sites and surrounding amenities. Outside the conference room, those interested in taking a stroll or drive around western Canada’s oldest city will get a taste of its rich local history. The stately 128-year-old Craigdarroch Castle, and the elegant harbourside Fairmont Empress (1908), one of B.C.’s oldest hotels, all speak to Victoria’s endearing heritage, while networking events can be hosted harbourside at the Robert Bateman Centre, or at the Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea in nearby Sidney.