Port Coquitlam steel firm wins massive contract to build telescope

7 April 2015

A Port Coquitlam steel fabrication company that has a history in building amusement rides and observatory telescopes has been named the lead contractor in one of the world’s largest astronomical observatories in Hawaii.

Tonight (Monday), at the Gordon MacMillan Southam Observatory in Vancouver, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced a $243.5-million commitment over the next decade for the Thirty Metre Telescope (TMT), with Dynamic Structures of PoCo in charge of the key components.

The Kingsway Avenue company will also be responsible for the precise-steel enclosure that will protect the telescope from both temperatures and winds in the 22-storey tower at the summit of Mauna Kea volcano.

Other telescope components such as adaptive optics technologies will be developed by the National Research Council and other Canadian companies, according to a news release.

The federal government’s pre-election offering — witnessed by MP James Moore and Port Coquitlam Mayor Greg Moore — allows Canada’s participation in the $1.5-billion TMT project on the construction and commissioning end.

The other partners involved are Japan, China, India and the U.S.

Canada’s involvement also secures a viewing share for Canadian researchers at the TMT, once complete in 2023 or ’24.

“This revolutionary facility has the potential to transform astronomers’ understanding of the universe. Our government is proud to be an official partner in this important project and to be contributing to science that will advance Canadian and international scientific discovery,” Harper said in the release.

Port Coquitlam Mayor Greg Moore hailed the company win and the spin-offs it will create locally.

“This is excellent news for Port Coquitlam. Dynamic Structures provides good paying jobs to many Port Coquitlam residents. Dynamic Structures will need to grow to accommodate this new contract and city council has been focused on helping PoCo businesses grow and succeed.”

Among Dynamics’ projects are: the Isaac Newton Telescope; the Vancouver Olympic ski jumps in Whistler, the Richmond Olympic Oval; the Lougheed SkyTrain station;  and Disney’s Soarin’ Over California and Space Mountain.

Dynamic Structures was started in 1926 when Vancouver Art Metal was founded. In 2007, AMEC sold the company to Empire Industries, which now operates the firm as Dynamic Structures. Three years ago, it spun off an amusement ride manufacturing division called Dynamic Attractions.