August 10, 2001
Ministers have follow-up meeting with officials at 9 Wing Gander
Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Tom Lush and Sandra Kelly, Minister of Youth Services and Post-Secondary Education, met with Major General James Steven Lucas, Commander of 1 Canadian Air Division, and Lieutenant Colonel Peter McKeage, Base Commander at 9 Wing Gander, in Gander on Wednesday, August 8, in a follow-up meeting to discuss proposed infrastructure changes and opportunities for joint training programs between the base and the local industry, including the College of the North Atlantic.
"Major General Lucas and Colonel McKeage informed Minister Kelly and me that the military is still conducting an assessment at 9 Wing Gander and are considering their options regarding proposed infrastructure changes," said Minister Lush. "There is no indication, at this time, of when a final decision will take place."
There has been some concern raised among Gander residents that 9 Wing may be decommissioning a number of its older buildings and transferring many of the functions of the base to rented facilities at the Gander airport.
"In our meeting yesterday, Minister Kelly and I reiterated the importance of the public being informed as decisions are made regarding 9 Wing’s infrastructure needs and any other changes that may occur at the base," said Minister Lush. "Keeping this in mind, I would like to emphasize that government will continue to work with the military in presenting the province’s concerns over any possible downgrading of activity at the base."
Minister Kelly raised the issue of the base partnering with the Gander Campus of the College of the North Atlantic in carrying out a cooperative aircraft maintenance and training program at the college. The minister was pleased that the base expressed interest in the concept.
"I am looking forward to further discussions with DND on training opportunities, specifically in the aircraft maintenance and engineering area at the Gander Campus," said Minister Kelly. "Based on the information received at this meeting, I feel very positive about future training opportunities with DND and I look forward to pursuing each and every opportunity for the Gander area."
Minister Lush added that Newfoundlanders and Labradorians make an important contribution to the military in terms of personnel. "Newfoundland and Labrador represents approximately 1.8 per cent of Canada’s total population, however, people from this province were responsible for 9.6 per cent of the Canadian Forces’ total full-time personnel," said the minister. "Given this significant contribution, we encourage the military to maintain a visible presence in the province and to continue to enhance their activities throughout Newfoundland and Labrador."
2001 08 10 11:20 a.m.