Cadet summer glider program in Debert grounded

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The cadet summer glider program in Debert, N.S. is being shut down. The program is being consolidated at three sites across Canada, down from the previous five. (CBC - image credit)
The cadet summer glider program in Debert, N.S. is being shut down. The program is being consolidated at three sites across Canada, down from the previous five. (CBC - image credit)

The summer cadet glider program that has called Debert, N.S., home for years is flying away.

The change is one of many following a review of the cadet program in 2020 by the assistant deputy minister of national defence.

That review determined that "the output of the cadet program was not aligned to the resources available," Cdr. Owen Smith, commanding officer of the regional cadet support unit for Atlantic Canada, said in a phone interview.

"What this means is that the number of cadet summer training centres for 2022 and onward won't look the same as they did in 2019 and previous," he said.

In short, there will be fewer.

In the case of the summer glider program, there will now be three sites instead of five, with a total of 90 available seats for 2022 spread between locations in St-Jean, Que., Trenton, Ont., and a location yet to be finalized in northwestern Canada.

Program last took off in 2019

Smith said cadets from Atlantic Canada will still have the opportunity to attend the summer glider camps elsewhere and spring and fall training will continue to be offered in Debert as it has been in the past.

Fifty cadets graduated from the summer program in Debert in 2018 and 41 in 2019, the last time it was offered prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We want to get a program that will be agile, accessible and affordable," said Smith. "We want to get as many cadets the cadet experience as possible."

The location of the three sites was influenced by the larger air cadet populations in those regions. The changes were also influenced by instructor availability and funding, said Smith.

Denise Sibley, general manager of the Debert airfield, said that although the change is disappointing, it shouldn't have an effect on operations at the site.

Although there could be reduced fuel sales, Sibley said the biggest change would be related to foot traffic.

"It kept the airfield very busy when the cadets were here, there's no doubt about that," she said.

"We'll just miss having all those people around. The busier the place is, the more fun it can be in some ways."

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