TOUR OF INDUSTRY SERIES: This CUBE is also a bit of a puzzle

A glance inside one of the Greater Victoria’s most secure buildings

A CUBE Global Storage visitor pass and a reporter’s notes. No cameras were allowed inside the building for security reasons.

To gain entry into one of the Greater Victoria region’s most secure buildings, you’ll need an extensive background check, be willing to present your palm for identification and meet a variety of security clearance measures.

Or, you need to be on one of the Saanich Peninsula Chamber of Commerce’s Tours of Industry.

Stop two on this year’s tour was at CUBE Global Storage Ltd. There’s a mostly vacant lot in Sidney’s industrial park where the company plans to build a new facility — but that’s full of stored recreation vehicles right now. With engineering plans in the works and building permits on hold, construction of a new secure facility in Sidney will take longer than anticipated. So, it was off to the Royal Oak area to tour CUBE’s existing site — an unidentified building with high security denoting interesting things inside.

With cameras left behind, identities confirmed and visitor passes issued, guides split the tour participants into two manageable groups. At first glance, one might think CUBE is simply a storage facility. That may be true, but it’s what they store that sets the company apart from those self-storage places.

CUBE’s director of business development Bob Gignac led one of the groups and noted right away the unusual angles and turns in the main floor hallway.

“The place is designed to thwart security breaches,” Gignac explained.

The corridors are tight (a pair of Canadian Forces soldiers had to squeeze past the tour) with plenty of places to hide should calamity occur. There are security doors that require passwords, IDs and even palm scans.

Why so secret-squirrel?

CUBE Global Storage contains data — and lots of it. Sensitive stuff, too, from countries such as Russia, Korea and China. Companies who deal in the virtual world keep their proprietary data locked up in Victoria, said Gignac, due to the environment in Canada — politically stable and with no laws forcing information to come under official scrutiny.

As a data storage site, CUBE offers its clients a location for its information, website servers and more. For instance, said Gignac, the entire website for a local museum is based there. When people go online to visit it, they are going to the data centre at CUBE.

What this gives clients, Gignac continued, is a secure place to update and store information. In example, he said that a company in Victoria had its headquarters in Tennessee hit by a tornado. Within 24 hours, CUBE sent them their backed-up computer drives to allow them to keep operating. Within the building itself, Gignac said they have a disaster recovery room, available to clients whose physical locations are no longer secure due to flood, fire or other calamity.

The building is climate-controlled, able to withstand an earthquake and can resist fire. That comes in handy for CUBE’s documents room. It’s a warehouse space that is lined, floor-to-ceiling, with boxes of paper documents from various business and government offices. There’s an estimated 50,000 to 60,000 boxes stored there — that’s some 900,000 documents, but who’s counting? Gignac said they are at 90 to 95 per cent capacity and need to expand.

Their basement vault (not open to the tour) is also burgeoning with book collections and more valuable items whose clients want them kept safe.

Keeping the place in a level climate and with so many electronics in action, Gignac said their power use is always an issue — especially with electricity rates on the way up. As they expand, he said, CUBE is looking into its own generators, fuel cells and other options.

That expansion is going to be taking place in Sidney as well, with CUBE’s proposed robotic storage facility in the industrial park. Will it contain as many secrets as the existing Victoria building? We may never know. Unless the company is on the next Tour of Industry itinerary.