Military structures to be torn down in Masset

Old military infrastructure in downtown Masset is expected to be demolished by the summer of 2014.

Old military infrastructure in downtown Masset is expected to be demolished by the summer of 2014.

The process to remove former-Canadian Forces Station structures, including an old hospital, barracks, mess halls and recreation facility, was started earlier this year when asbestos was removed from all of the buildings to allow for a safe cleanup.

Bill Beamish, who the Greater Massett Development Corporation (GMDC) hired to manage the project, said the process is now ready to proceed.

“It’s a matter of taking down the buildings now. That’s the next step,” he said.

“We’ll be going out for bids shortly,” Beamish said, adding the demolition is expected to begin in March.

Originally opened as a naval radio station in the 1940s, much of the standing infrastructure was constructed in the late 1960s and early 1970s when the Canadian Forces initiated a station at the site. The Canadian Forces Station was in operation until the 1990s, when it was converted into remote operations.

“When the military decided to depart around 1995, they were going to demolish all of [the infrastructure]. The communities of the Village of Masset, and the Village of Old Massett worked out an arrangement … that the buildings would be left along with a pot of money that would be set aside for their eventual demolition,” said Masset Mayor and GMDC director Andrew Merilees.

At the time, the old recreation centre was being used by the communities.

“It was running as a recreation centre. There was a pool, a gymnasium, a bowling alley, some small rooms and a sauna that we used quite extensively,” Merilees said.

The centre was kept open with interest from the money earmarked for the eventual demolition of the infrastructure. But in 2008, Merilees said the downturn in the economy meant there wasn’t enough interest being produced to cover the basic costs of running the aging recreation centre.

“A number of times the community looked at restarting the centre, but it’s so out of date and expensive to run. We have such a small population, so it hasn’t happened,” Merilees

said.

The GMDC requested a group be formed to determine options for the recreation centre, whether it should remain standing or be included in the demolition. Merilees said the board is expecting the group to present its findings in the first part of the new year.

“The GMDC board has looked at the option, but doesn’t think it’s viable … we want to make sure we’ve given the community every opportunity to evaluate for themselves,” Merilees said.

The old military structures are anticipated to be removed by the end of June.

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