Marine Emergency Duties Centre opens in Owen Sound

Dignitaries cutting a ribbon with a giant pair of scissors

Dignitaries cut a ribbon which launched a champagne bottle to christen the new Algoma Central Corporation Marine Emergency Duties (MED) Centre at the Owen Sound Campus of Georgian College on Thursday, Oct. 6. Participants are, from left, Eric McKenzie, Vice President, Technical Services, Lower Lakes Towing; MaryLynn West-Moynes, President and CEO, Georgian College; Karen Watt, Vice President Human Resources, Algoma Central Corporation; Bill Walker, Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound MPP; and Alan Barfoot, Grey County Warden.

The new Algoma Central Corporation Marine Emergency Duties (MED) Centre was officially opened today at the Owen Sound Campus of Georgian College.

The $7.5 million, 13,600-square-foot facility is a key part of the college’s renowned Marine Studies. It will be used extensively by students enrolled in Georgian’s postsecondary marine programs as well as by working mariners who require certification or refresher training.

MED training is mandatory for anyone who works on a ship in Canada. After several years without a marine emergency duties training facility in Ontario, mariners will no longer need to travel to Canada’s east or west coasts to obtain this certification. Life-saving training includes firefighting, survival craft, life raft and immersion suit training, as well as first aid. The location of the centre at Georgian College confirms the Owen Sound Campus as a premier facility for professional marine education.

The Government of Canada provided $1.96 million through the Small Communities Fund for the project, and the Province of Ontario also contributed $1.96 million to this project.

Grey County Council was the first to pledge financial support, in the amount of $2 million, recognizing in part the significant economic importance to the region.

Several marine industry leaders – who will train their work force at the centre – made substantial donations to help ensure the facility would become a reality. The centre is named for Algoma Central Corporation, which became the largest private donor to the project with its donation of $1 million. The common area in the centre is named in recognition of Lower Lakes Towing LTD., which also made a generous donation of $500,000.

Georgian offers two full-time postsecondary marine co-op programs – a two-year diploma in Marine Engineering Technician and a three-year advanced diploma in Marine Technology-Navigation. A one-year graduate certificate in Marine Engineering Management is offered for those seeking advanced training in the marine industry.

The Centre for Marine Training and Research also provides training for working mariners, with 2,400 course registrations in the past year alone.

For more information on marine emergency duties training at Georgian, visit To learn about marine diploma and graduate certificate programs, go to


“The Government of Canada is proud to invest in infrastructure improvements that contribute to Ontario’s economy and enhance the quality of life for all Canadians. The new Algoma Central Corporation Marine Emergency Duties Centre and other projects like it are part of the federal government’s commitment to building stronger and more resilient communities, which is critical for attracting economic opportunities for the middle class and those trying to join it.”

The Honourable Amarjeet Sohi, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities

“Our government continues to demonstrate our commitment to rural communities by partnering with the federal government to provide more than $3.9 million in funding to support the new Algoma Central Corporation Marine Emergency Duties Centre at the Owen Sound Campus of Georgian College. This investment will boost local economic development and ensure that mariners are able to receive important career training closer to home. By making the largest infrastructure investment in our province’s history, we are laying the foundation for sustainable economic development, creating jobs and new economic opportunities in rural communities across Ontario.”

The Honourable Jeff Leal, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs

“Being part of this project just made sense to County Council, as our residents will benefit from the increased economic activity the students and mariners will bring to the region, as well as enhance our reputation as the home of the marine training centre of excellence in Ontario,”

Alan Barfoot, Warden, County of Grey

“Marine Emergency Duties training is critical to our industry and we are pleased to help make this training available in Ontario, where it has been absent since 2013. Fleet renewal has been a priority for our company but equally as important, we need to invest in training our current and future personnel to ensure our shipping operations flourish.”

Ken Bloch Soerensen, President and CEO, Algoma Central Corporation

“The new Marine Emergency Duties Centre ensures shipping companies have a one-stop shop for quality marine programs and training in Ontario at Georgian College’s Owen Sound Campus. Our company is proud to participate in and support this important project, which is a great example of partnership. A need was identified for current and future employees of the marine industry to be properly trained in Marine Emergency Duties. Georgian College, government and industry have worked together to make this a reality. This is an investment which aligns to our commitment to safety, our employees, our customers and operational excellence while addressing our industry’s needs today and into the future.”

Eric McKenzie, Vice President of Technical Services, Lower Lakes Towing

“In addition to technical skills, our students must also learn teamwork and co-operation to develop successful careers in the marine industry. That kind of innovative collaboration has built this centre, thanks to the generous contributions of the federal and provincial governments, Grey County, Algoma Central Corporation and Lower Lakes Towing along with the support of the Marine Chamber of Commerce, the Canadian Shipowners Association and others. We have come together to create the most sophisticated marine emergency training facility in the country, right here in Owen Sound.”

MaryLynn West-Moynes, President and CEO, Georgian College

“A ship is self-contained, so you can’t call 9-11. You have to know how to respond to any health or fire emergency, including how to evacuate if necessary. Everybody on board needs to know how to do that and that’s the training we’re now able to provide here in Owen Sound.”

Heidi Pries, Operations Manager, Centre for Marine Training and Research

Quick facts on the Marine Emergency Duties Centre

  • 13,600-square-foot building with adjacent fire training facility
  • Includes classrooms, videoconferencing, lifeboat simulator, common area, bunker gear storage and laundry, change rooms, washrooms, showers, storage
  • Fire training facility simulates the on-ship environment generating flames and smoke
  • Life raft, life boat and immersion suit training are offered in nearby pool and harbour facilities in Owen Sound
  • It is estimated visits by marine personnel could generate a substantial $5 million in spending in Owen Sound and the surrounding area each year

Quick facts on Georgian’s Marine Training and Research Centre

  • Extensive $8-million renovation in 2008
  • State-of-the-art computerized simulators
    • Four navigational training bridges and an engine room simulator to simulate real-life marine scenarios
    • The ability to create simulations of specific ships or harbours worldwide for customized training
  • Central Canada’s marine centre of excellence
  • The centre meets a demand for training for new and veteran mariners. The Ontario marine industry forecasts that 1,300 jobs will become available over the next 10 years as more than 70 per cent of current mariners are expected to retire

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