Lois Mitchell

Lois Mitchell

View Royal environmental researcher honoured

Leader in the field of computational modeling has a diverse portfolio

Canadian coastal communities will be better prepared for rising sea levels and other effects of climate change, thanks to the work of View Royal resident Clayton Hiles and his Victoria-based company.

Hiles graduated from the University of Victoria in 2010 with a masters degree in applied science established Cascadia Coast Research Ltd. in 2012. Earlier this month in Calgary, he was presented with a Mitacs Entrepreneur Award, an honour that recognizes his leadership in the field of ocean modelling and his dedication to entrepreneurship.

“In the past, we haven’t been that worried about climate change as a society,” Hiles says, “but now coastal communities are being mandated to consider sea level rise and tsunami risk in their municipal planning. As more significant infrastructure is built, it’s important to understand potential hazards like flooding and erosion to planners can design accordingly.”

Cascadia Coast’s niche, Hiles says, is “computational modelling.” When B.C. Ferries was considering new routes, Hiles’ company helped determine wave strength and wind speeds. Cascadia has also worked with coastal communities on hazard assessment work, helping better prepare them for possible destructive events in the future. The firm has also worked on research projects into marine renewable energy.

It is difficult, time-consuming and expensive for people working on large engineering or infrastructure projects to get enough data from actually observing the natural environment, Hiles says, as it’s all interconnected and interdependent. Computational modelling allows for a broader understanding of that environment in a much shorter period of time, he adds.

“It’s nice to get recognized for the work we do and that we’re doing it as an independent business. A lot of hard work goes into running your own business. You don’t do it for the money, that’s for sure. I’d probably be making a lot more money if I went to work for some big corporation or something,” he says, laughing.

Being able to set his own hours and determine which projects he takes on makes up for the lack of wallet padding, Hiles adds.

Mitacs is a non-profit organization that supports scientific research initiatives and training in partnership with companies, government and universities across Canada. Hiles participated in one of their internships while he completed his graduate degree, which made him eligible for this newly-created award. To find out more about what they do, visit mitacs.ca.

To find out more about Clayton Hiles and the work being done by Cascadia Coastal Research, head over to cascadiacoast.com.

mdavies@goldstreamgazette.com