Fate of building following ASU departure remains unclear

Questions remain about future of renovated building at Canada Education Park in Chilliwack

RCMP officials at the Pacific Region Training Centre in Chilliwack say it’s too early to speculate whether there’s any interest in acquiring the “1041 Building” should it come available with the closure of the Canadian Forces’ Area Support Unit.

And it appears “unrealistic” for the necessary studies to be completed in time to use the building for a new rifle range, said RCMP Insp. Ken Burton, officer in charge of support services at the PRTC.

The University of the Fraser Valley is interested in the property at 1041 Caen Road behind its Trades and Technology Centre, but UFV officials aren’t commenting publicly until after a tour of the property later this month.

Chilliwack MLA John Les, the former Chilliwack mayor who has been instrumental in converting the former military base into what is now the Canada Education Park, was also non-committal about possible future uses of the 1041 building.

But he pointed out the city has seen “huge economic and educational benefit” out of all the former military buildings and properties that are now being used by the RCMP, Canada Border Services, B.C. Justice Institute and UFV.

“The 1041 building could certainly fall into that category,” he said.

Burton said the building at 1041 building is a “beautiful” structure, but it is also a “special purpose building” designed as a motor transport repair facility for the military.

“I think it would fit into our plan,” he said, but added it is “too early” to say the RCMP has a need for the facility.

The RCMP is looking at building a new rifle range facility, he said, rather than acquire an existing building.

In addition to the studies that would be needed before purchase of the 1041 building, he said, capital expenditures by the RCMP now need provincial government approval under the terms of the new contract, which could further delay a solution to the noise complaints stemming from the existing rifle range.

He said the RCMP is shooting for a new rifle range by late 2015.

It’s not even clear the military will turn the property over to the Canada Lands Company for redevelopment after the ASU closes in fiscal 2013/14.

Randy Fasan said the CLC is “not in the loop yet” as to what will happen to the 1041 building when the ASU closes.

He said the decision must first go to the defence minister’s office, and then to the treasury board for review.

If the federal government has no need for the building, then provincial and municipal governments would have a shot at acquiring it, he said.

If there are no other takers, then it would come to the CLC for disposal.

It was the CLC that developed the bulk of the former military base into residential accommodation.

The 1041 building was home to the 39 Combat Engineers Regiment, which will move to the nearby ASU building when it closes, as expected.

The Union of National Defence Employees is fighting the closure, which it says will cost the community 18 jobs with a $930,000 annual payroll.

The 1041 building underwent a $5.2 million seismic upgrade and renovation last year, and the environmental impact of removing an underground oil-water separator and storage tank was being studied.