Military personnel in St. John’s used to perform their duties in 18 buildings spread throughout the Pleasantville area. From now on, there will be just one.
The new home for Canadian Forces Station St. John’s was officially opened Saturday afternoon — a day that coincided with the station’s 46th anniversary.
The 35,000-square-metre Surgeon Lieutenant-Commander W. Anthony Paddon Building will house and support eight regular and reserve force units.
The Royal Newfoundland Regiment, 35 Medical Company Detachment and 26 Canadian Forces Health Services Detachment are amongst those groups set to occupy the building.
“Certainly it’s dominating the landscape here in Pleasantville,” said Vice-Admiral Mark Norman, Commander of the Royal Canadian Navy. “From a national perspective, there is no other building like this in Canada.”
It cost $156 million to design and construct that building and a new Military Family Resource Centre. Canada Lands Co., a Crown corporation, purchased 66 acres of land in the Pleasantville area from 2006 to 2007. It eventually revealed plans to replace CFS St. John’s and develop commercial and residential properties on land not being used by the new base.
Federal Natural Resources Minister Greg Rickford attended the ceremony on behalf of National Defence Minister Rob Nicholson.
“This, ladies and gentlemen, is a community that has been shaped by a proud and rich military history,” said Rickford. “It’s a history that lives on today in CFS St. John’s here in Pleasantville.”
It is named after William Anthony Paddon, a former lieutenant-governor of Newfoundland and Labrador who also worked as a physician. He served as a surgeon with the Royal Canadian Navy during the Second World War and moved back to Labrador once it ended.
His son David Paddon said the family was honoured to have the building named in his honour.
“We are thrilled and pleased in so many ways that this wonderful new building is to be named in dad’s honour,” he said.
Commander Larry Trim, Commanding Officer for CFS St. John’s, can recall construction still being in its earliest stages when he first took on his position at the base three years ago. He suggested the new building’s useful life will extend into the 22nd century.
With many aging military facilities still in use, Norman said the new site for CFS St. John’s sets a benchmark for future projects.
“Certainly there’s best practices in not only the construction, but looking ahead in terms of the sustainability of the building itself, its environmental footprint and the rest of it. So yeah, we’re looking at this as a real model for other opportunities across Canada.”