De Havilland hosts open house in Strathmore

De Havilland of Canada hosted an open house at the Strathmore and District Agricultural Society, Nov. 9, to share more information about their proposed new campus in Wheatland County.

Vice President of Corporate Affairs for De Havilland, Neil Sweeney, said the team was excited to be talking about their plans for the campus and addressing questions or concerns from the community.

“We have had a couple of events already in Cheadle and in Langdon, and saved the best for last in Strathmore. We have gotten a lot of really great responses. The community is coming out in force and I think it shows people are really interested in what we are doing,” he said. “We want to engage with the community, want to listen to what people’s concerns and comments are, take them into account, and also really think about the opportunities they can have as we grow.”

Sweeney said the goal is to have shovels in the ground for De Havilland’s Wheatland County campus sometime in 2024, though the timeline is still very much up in the air.

He added local employment for when construction begins in earnest will be a welcome addition to crews on site.

“People are thinking about transportation, so we are working with Alberta Transportation now about how we get people to and from the site safely across Highway One,” Sweeney said. “We are (also) thinking about how we can minimize the impact on light pollution, (and) noise for people who are close to us.”

According to Sweeney, reports from locals have generally indicated excitement about the opportunities De Havilland’s campus will provide for the region both in terms of business as well as employment.

The open house on Nov. 9 was primarily to present granular information about the site as a whole – such as the number of buildings, phasing what De Havilland aims to accomplish in specific timelines, etc.

Immediately, the goal is to have the runway built at the site, an assembly plant, and distributional logistics.

“Phase 1 really is the runway and aircraft assembly. We will be assembling the DHD 515 water bombers, and then also our distribution logistics centre,” said Sweeney. “We want to make sure that we have state of the art parts available for our assembly as we build … after that, it will grow from there.”

Ultimately, the entire campus is expected to take between 10 and 15 years to complete, though staff will be migrated into buildings as they are completed rather than allowing facilities to remain vacant.

Sweeney anticipated De Havilland will be hosting another event to discuss updated details of their plan in early 2023.

John Watson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times