Prime minister Stephen Harper greets Capt. Helene Roy

Prime minister Stephen Harper greets Capt. Helene Roy

New $155 million facility for local helicopter squadron

The Department of National Defence is locked in on 2014.

That’s when they hope to have the new $155 million helicopter facility for 443 Maritime Helicopter Squadron at Pat Bay. 

“Here at Pat Bay, we shall build a combined operations and maintenance centre for 443 Squadron,” said Prime Minister Stephen Harper. “It will be ready in 2014, that’s when the squadron will need it as it re-equips with the Cyclone. The new building will consolidate all squadron functions under one roof making the squadron more efficient in many ways. It will also be a solid investment in the future of naval aviation in Canada.”

The project includes a 20,000 square-metre facility to replace 60-plus year old hangar currently in use, in time for the nine new CH-148 Cyclone helicopters which are scheduled to arrive in the spring of 2014. The new building is slated for construction across from the existing hangar off Kittyhawk Road where the announcement was made Tuesday. 

“It will accommodate the nine Cyclone maritime helicopters that are to replace 443 squadron’s six old Sea Kings,” Harper said. “We live in a society that expects many things from government … the first duty of a national government everywhere and always is to protect its people and its territory from external threats. If you don’t do that, you soon don’t have a country and you don’t have any of the other little things you once thought were more important.”

In addition to the new building, the project includes an exterior aircraft apron for parking up to five Cyclone helicopters, a taxiway linking the parking apron to the runway, an aircraft wash area and re-fuelling cabinet, a parking area for up to 300 vehicles, a guard house with security barriers, and a perimeter security fence. 

“This new hangar will give us the tools we will need to maximize the effectiveness of the new CH148 maritime helicopter as we support maritime and joint operations across this coast,” said Lieutenant Colonel Peter Allan, commanding officer at 443. “443 squadron has been here at Patricia Bay for 21 years. We draw tremendous strength from the generous support we receive from our neighbours in Sidney, North Saanich and throughout lower Vancouver Island. With our new facility here, we very much look forward to continuing to strengthen those bonds in the years to come. In this strong community, with the new helicopter on the horizon and new facility from which to operate, the future is bright for 443 Squadron and for our continued ability to serve Canada with strength and pride.”

The squadron mans such ships as HMCS Calgary, Ottawa, Regina, Vancouver, and Winnipeg in the Canadian Patrol Frigate class, and other vessels, including the Huron, Algonquin and Protecteur. 443 also supports government efforts to combat drug, fisheries and environmental violations in Canadian waters. Internationally, it supports operations in surveillance, peacekeeping and humanitarian operations.

“British Columbia plays such an important role, when it comes to the guarding of Canada’s coast line, the work that’s done in the Arctic, and the men and women in uniform have a great supporter in Gary Lunn,” said Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence, who was on hand for the announcement. 

“The 443 squadron is such a huge part of our local community in so many ways. They’re well known in our communities across southern Vancouver Island. They make us proud each and every day,” said Gary Lunn, MP for Saanich-Gulf Islands. “We thank you and we’re with you and we continue to support you.”