Poor timing and bad communication. That’s what Cold Lake Mayor Craig Copeland is calling the closure of the Aerospace Engineering Test Establishment at 4 Wing Cold Lake. The move was made public on Friday after talks inside the House of Commons in Ottawa. Copeland says the status of the test wing had been in question for some time but says he heard the official the news through MP David Yurdiga.
“We understand the federal government has to make business decisions with the defence department. I think it’s just the optics. Maybe they should have sat down with myself at a minimum and laid out the cards.”
About 50 people will be moving with the relocation. The unit had been operating at 4 Wing since 1971. Testing will be moved to the civilian international airport in Ottawa. The change in scenery is expected to save the feds about $14 million per year. The announcement comes at a time where Cold Lake and the Lakeland has seen economic slow-down with oil and gas woes. Copeland says the timing makes it sting that much more.
“We have so many houses for sale as it is and the oilpatch getting kicked in the head. Just before Christmas, this is not a nice announcement. I didn’t think we could get any lower, but it sure seems that 2019 is shaping up to be worse than 2018.”
Some personnel working at the unit will be repurposed and stay at 4 Wing. Around 2,200 people work at 4 Wing Cold Lake.