44 Combat Engineers Squadron are increasing their Cranbrook presence, seeking to lease a 350-square-metre building to house operations. Barry Coulter photo

Combat Engineers boosting Cranbrook presence

Squadron looks to lease building to house operations, intends to increase recruiting

The Combat Engineers are looking to expand their presence and their numbers in Cranbrook, and accordingly are looking for a large space to lease.

The 44th Engineer Squadron, based out of Trail and Cranbrook, is a sub-unit of the 39 Combat Engineer Regiment — a reserve regiment of the Canadian Forces. As part of its stated goal of strengthening the Reserve component, the Department of National Defence will be soliciting expressions of interest from Cranbrook property owners for a building suitable for lease, and large enough for “accommodating an Army Reserve Combat Engineer organization.”

Major Leah Byrne, Commander of the 44 Engineer Squadron, said that for the past few years the squadron has been represented in Cranbrook by a small troop that parades at Kennedy Hall, but that it’s no longer sufficient for the unit’s needs.

“We’re trying to grow and have equipment stored here — it’s not sufficient for our training needs.

“We’re looking for a much larger facility, in which we can bring equipment to Cranbrook, grow our numbers significantly, and have a real presence within the community.”

The process is part of a larger recruiting effort as well.

“The Army Reserves has changed the way they’re doing recruiting. It’s now down to the unit level. Ideally we could grow [the Cranbrook unit] up to 40 people. There definitely seems to be an interest in the area, and it’s great part-time work. People get to stay and work in the community where they’re from, serve their country.”

The recruiting process has been made a little simpler. Used to be, recruiting was done through the larger recruiting centres, such as Vancouver and Calgary.

“Now we can do everything locally,” Major Byrne said. “They can do the initial screening in Cranbrook and Trail, and we are working on making the process more efficient.

“The idea was that we could get it down to a three-visit model. From the first time you walk in the door, ideally three weeks later we could have you enrolled and on the payroll. “It’s still taking us a little bit longer than that, because of medical and reliability screenings. But it is a smoother process for sure.”

The new facility, when it becomes reality, would serve as training establishment and depot, with space to house some of the squadron’s bigger trucks and sundry equipment, and to work out of in a multitude of capacities.

As well as appropriate and use zoning, the building would encompass some 350 square metres and on-site parking.

“It’s a pretty cool trade within the military. They build bridges, they do demolitions, breaching — all your basic soldiering skills, on top of working with some pretty neat equipment.”

Owners of a site with appropriate land use zoning, a building of a minimum of 350 square metres, on-site parking and availability from the fall of 2018 for an initial five-year lease period are invited to email william.acheson2@forces.gc.ca. A Statement of Requirement with evaluation criteria will be provided to interested persons. Expressions of interest are requested no later than 15 June 2018.

Anyone interested in more information on the 44 Combat Engineers can call the local recruiting number, 250-368-2129.

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