Faced with high costs, defence department scales back Arctic presence

Canadian Forces Arctic Training Centre planned for Resolute Bay a victim of budget cuts


The Polar Continental Shelf Program's residence was expanded, but now the military says the project to turn it into an Arctic training centre won't proceed. (PHOTO BY JANE GEORGE)

The Polar Continental Shelf Program’s residence was expanded, but now the military says the project to turn it into an Arctic training centre won’t proceed. (PHOTO BY JANE GEORGE)

The planned Canadian Forces Arctic Training Centre in Resolute Bay has landed on the chopping block as the Canadian army copes with a 22 per cent cut that will take its budget from $1.5 billion to $1.2 billion by 2015.

That’s according to documents leaked to the Ottawa Citizen, which reported the military has confirmed the Resolute Bay project will not proceed.

“Recent Northern exercises and operations highlight the fact that conduct of these activities can cost from five to seven times more than if they were conducted in Southern Canada,” said the Jan. 31 planning document from army commander Lt.-Gen. Peter Devlin obtained by the Citizen. “The Army will have to limit/reduce the scope of its activities in the North, thus directly impacting on Canada’s ability to exercise Arctic sovereignty.”

The construction of a 3,000-metre paved runway, hangars, fuel installations and other infrastructure had been proposed as part of an effort to support government and military operations in the North.

The residence facility, which is part of the Polar Continental Shelf Program in Resolute Bay, expanded its number of beds to 97 with the construction of a new wing. A second wing was built as part of the Dept. of National Defence’s plan to share the facility for its Canadian Forces Arctic Training Centre to increase the residence’s capacity to 200.

Resolute Bay was to provide a logistics site for search-and-rescue operations as well as a base for strategic refuelling aircraft, according to a briefing from the Arctic Management Office at 1 Canadian Air Division, the air force’s Winnipeg-based command and control division, presented in June 2010.

The long paved runway would allow fighter aircraft to operate from the site, with the suggestion in the presentation that this could include NORAD (North American Aerospace Defence Command) jets.

Resolute Bay now has a 1,981-metre gravel runway.

Among other cuts to defence activities in the North: a scale-back of the naval facility in Nanisivik, with the original plan for a $160 million upgrade to the old dock, once used for shipping ore out of the now-defunct mine, reduced to a $60 million fueling station for Arctic offshore patrol ships, and the delay in the delivery of those Arctic patrol ships until at least 2018,

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