Ottawa opens scaled-back Arctic training facility in Nunavut’s Resolute Bay

Army will piggyback centre on top of Polar Continental Shelf Program

By NUNATSIAQ NEWS

Members of the Arctic Response Company Group return to headquarters in Resolute Bay after completing a mock investigation with Environment Canada Aug. 13, as part of Operation Nanook activities. (PHOTO BY CPL. DAN STROHAN, 8 WING IMAGING TRENTON)


Members of the Arctic Response Company Group return to headquarters in Resolute Bay after completing a mock investigation with Environment Canada Aug. 13, as part of Operation Nanook activities. (PHOTO BY CPL. DAN STROHAN, 8 WING IMAGING TRENTON)

The Canadian Armed Forces opened a scaled-down version of its long-awaited Arctic training centre in Resolute Bay Aug. 15, in the wake of reports earlier this year that the Army planned to reduce or cancel it, the Department of National Defence said in a news release.

The centre will use existing space belonging to the Polar Continental Shelf Program in Resolute Bay, which recently underwent an expansion.

“Investing in the Canadian Armed Forces in Resolute Bay is an important investment in the North,” Nunavut MP Leona Aglukkaq said in the news release, which was issued at the same time as Canadian Forces members and other agencies continue activities in Resolute Bay related to the annual Operation Nanook exercise, with a community day scheduled for Aug. 15.

The centre now appears to be focused on helping to provide emergency response and disaster assistance to civilian agencies.

“The Canadian Armed Forces Arctic Training Centre will reinforce the Canadian Armed Forces’ presence in this important region of Canada while providing support to civilian authorities,” said Rob Nicholson, the defence minister.

In August 2007, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced a plan to create the facility, which was envisioned as a multipurpose centre for military training in Resolute Bay, with a longer paved runway, hangars, fuel storage, and other pieces of infrastructure.

But documents leaked to the Ottawa Citizen this past March suggest the Canadian army, faced with a 22 per cent budget cut, had decided to eliminate or scale back its plan for the Arctic training centre.

But the Army now says they “remain committed” to conducting exercises in the Canadian Arctic.

“Our soldiers will have access to a state-of-the-art training facility capable of supporting individual and collective Arctic and cold weather training with enough equipment and communication infrastructure to serve as a forward operating base if required,” said Lt.-General Marquis Haines, the commander of the Canadian army.

DND said the Resolute Bay centre will be uses as a command post for emergency operations and disaster response, and for pre-positioning equipment and vehicles.

“The Canadian Armed Forces Arctic Training Centre will reinforce the Canadian Armed Forces’ presence in this important region of Canada while providing support to civilian authorities,”” said Rob Nicholson, the defence minister.

Another defence department plan — for a $100-million naval facility at Nanisivik— took a major haircut last year, after Ottawa told regulators the plan has been downgraded to a small seasonal refueling station.

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