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Canadian Forces commit to beautifying ‘austere’ new training facility in Halifax

Maritime Forces Atlantic looking to improve training facility appearance
WATCH: The Maritime Forces Atlantic says it may be able to improve the drab appearance of a new training facility by Gottingen Street. Elizabeth McSheffrey reports.

Maritime Forces Atlantic has confirmed that it will beautify a new building on the Halifax military base following complaints on social media that it’s an eyesore.

The Naval Seamanship Training Facility at Stadacona has been under construction for more than a year and features a solid grey exterior with few windows or decorative features.

An aging fence with commemorative plaques adds some character to the perimeter, but that has done little to appease residents who are concerned that its bleak southwest wall will become a permanent feature overlooking Gottingen Street.

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Ermal Morina, who works at the Exquisite Cuts salon across from the facility, told Global News that some of his customers have said it looks like a prison.

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“Some of them think it’s ugly, looks like a jail,” he said, peering out the window towards the wall.

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Asked if facility’s drab appearance bothers him personally, Morina responded: “Uh, not really. But kind of. It’s not the best view.”

On Tuesday, Rear Admiral Craig Baines, who commands the local forces, said members of Maritime Forces Atlantic have always had plans to spruce up the training centre but haven’t had a chance to do community outreach yet.

The facility will come under military ownership in about a year, he explained, and that’s when Maritime Forces Atlantic will consider a name change, along with beautification options.

“We can understand why people think it might look a little bit austere, but the good news is that we’re going to be able to do some work both with our own folks and the local community to make it look better,” he said in an interview at the Halifax dockyards.

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“I think one of the best ideas that we’ve heard so far would be some sort of a banner that we could maybe put a mural on that would reflect the history of the area and where we are today. But we really don’t want to limit that conversation too much because we want to hear people’s great ideas.”

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The reason there are no windows on the Gottingen-side wall, he added, is so the navy can run training exercises in dark conditions.

Prior to the construction of the new facility, the site was home to an accommodation block that has since been placed elsewhere.

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Judy Deal monitors the crosswalk at the intersection of Gottingen and Almon streets daily and said the new building ought to be sound rather than “lit up.”

“A building is a building,” she told Global News before starting her lunch-hour patrol. “But that’s a military building. It’s not supposed to be frilly, if you understand what I’m trying to say.”

Douglas Landry, who lives up the street from the facility, agreed. He said he could “take it or leave it” when it comes to the building’s appearance.

“I don’t mind it. It’s just another building, that’s all it is. And if nobody likes it, you just look away.”

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Baines confirmed that the base commander in Halifax has already assembled a team to examine options for the facility’s artistic additions. It’s expected to be ready for Navy use in 2020.

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