Sea Cadets from across the country will continue to train at the former naval base at Cornwallis Park.
West Nova MP Colin Fraser announced a $13,439,140 three-year contract June 26 at the Annapolis Basin Conference Centre. The conference centre also has a one-year option to extend the HMCS Acadia Cadet Training Centre contract valued at another $5,165,583.
The announcement ends uncertainty about the training centre’s future in Cornwallis.
“I know that it’s been a challenge over the last number of years to have one-year options being renewed and that that poses challenges to ABCC to ensure that they are able make the investment in infrastructure and plan for the long term,” Fraser said.
As part of the contract, ABCC will operate the camp for nine weeks each summer, provide year-round storage and administrative facilities, and support nautical training weekends in the spring and fall at the Lloyd M. Bourinot Sail Centre in Annapolis Royal.
Cadets from across Canada and abroad will arrive in Cornwallis this summer, taking part in seamanship, drill and ceremonial, music, sailing, and general training programs, a media release said. More than 1,000 cadets and staff are expected in Cornwallis in 2019.
There is long history of cadets at the Cornwallis site since the 1970s, when it was former Canadian Forces Base Cornwallis, with ABCC continuing the tradition by hosting about 25,000 cadets over the past 25 years.
“We are very proud to continue with this tradition,” said Conference Centre CEO Beth Earle. “Hosting HMCS Acadia has a significant impact on our community, and I think everyone here is invested in that success. The contract is a huge economic driver in our region.”
She said HMCS Acadia books 35,000 room nights with ABCC each year, and every year 100 ABCC staff are employed with the support of this contract.
“HMCS Acadia participants and their families spend time and money in our region; eating at local restaurants, visiting local businesses, and participating in local experiences. Furthermore, much of HMCSAcadia operational purchases are made in our community,” she said.
The cadet program is one of the largest public-funded youth organizations in Canada, with some 53,000 youth, ages 12 to 18, participating in programs annually, the media release said. HMCS Acadia plays an important role in the delivery of the Cadet Program. As one of 22 cadet training centres across Canada, it offers cadets further opportunities to develop leadership, self-sufficiency, teamwork, and other skills through experiences they can’t get anywhere else.
“I know how important it is to the community here in Cornwallis and the Digby area to host the cadets and their families, and all of the staff and the wonderful people that participate every summer in this program,” Fraser said.
“This is an important commitment working in partnership between the government of Canada and the Department of National Defence and all the wonderful people here at ABCC who ensure certainty for the next number of years to be able to host HMCS Acadia here in our beautiful community in Cornwallis,” he said.
"We're thrilled to nurture the deep-rooted connection between the community of Cornwallis and the Department of National Defence, providing facilities and services for this important program fostering youth development in Canada," said Neil Nichols, ABCC board chair. "In addition, the three-year contract will enhance ABCC’s ability to plan for facility enhancements to better serve our guests."
“We are thrilled to nurture the deep-rooted connection between the community of Cornwallis and the Department of National Defence, providing facilities and services for this important program that fosters youth development in Canada,” said Earle. “We so appreciate the program itself and our opportunity to be part of that.”
“This is a really, really exciting day for us,” said Annapolis County Warden Timothy Habinski who was at the announcement. “I want to express real appreciation to the Government of Canada for continuing this contract for another three years. As Beth has said this is a real economic driver in the entire region. It’s difficult to overstate its significance to our local economy.”
But Habinski said that’s not why he’s excited.
“I’m excited because we are in the business as a county … of providing young people with opportunities. We’re in the business of investing in the future of our young people,” he said. “And this is one of the tangible places that we do that. When somebody asks ‘what do you do in Annapolis County,’ I love to give the answer that we invest in young people. We create opportunities here for young people from our own community, young people from across the country, and for young people from around the world. We’ve claimed that as part of our core identity. Every year, the lives of children from across the nation are touched by what happens here in this facility in this community. That is reason to celebrate.”
As well as hosting the HMCS Acadia Cadet Training Centre, ABCC welcomes regional, national and international guests attending retreats, workshops, conferences, weddings and more. In 2018, event highlights included an international silent Buddhist retreat hosted by the Pundarika Foundation, Felt: Feutre, the Canadian Felting Symposium and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities Board of Directors Meeting.
ABCC is a non-profit utilizing many of the facilities of the former CFB Cornwallis. The five-acre site features meeting rooms and events spaces, accommodations, and dining facilities. It’s the former site of the Pearson Peacekeeping Centre.