North Bay's Trevor Schindeler is making a last push to preserve a big part of the city's history, after receiving little support from area politicians.
He's calling on the Canadian government to commission a feasibility study into preserving the Underground NORAD Complex as a national historic site, park, or museum.
"I have put some effort into trying to save the Underground NORAD Complex - with little success," Schindeler tells BayToday. "When the Department of Defence recently announced plans to decommission the facility, I decided to try one more time."
The former college professor says he'll start by emailing a series of “open letters” to politicians who are in a position to protect the Complex including Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of National Defence; and Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Canadian Heritage.
Schindeler's interest was piqued after he had the opportunity to visit the complex while it was still operational.
"I was astounded that such a military facility existed in Canada. When NORAD abandoned the site in 2006, I assumed that it would become a national historic site or museum. That never happened. It would benefit North Bay in many ways."
The underground complex at 22 Wing North Bay operated from 1963 to 2006. In 2006, the complex was partially decommissioned and its operations moved to a modern, aboveground facility located at the Wing called the Sgt. David L. Pitcher Complex. After review, the underground complex was then declared surplus to military needs in July 2012.
"While several parties have expressed interest in repurposing the facility, due to its location underneath an active military base and NORAD facility, transferring the facility to a third party is not possible," explained Capt. Leah Pierce in an April news release.
Local political support to preserve the complex hasn't happened.
"They don't see it as a municipal responsibility," explains Schindeler. "I think they sometimes have other requests before the federal government that they have been trying to get approved."
City Council sent a copy of a resolution supporting the idea and asking for a feasibility study, but there's been no follow-up.
See: Is SAGE North Bay's Science North?
And: Study underway to decommission the SAGE underground complex
And: Opinion: Underground NORAD Complex should be designated as an official historic site
Schindeler is hoping to get a groundswell of support through social media.
"I have created a Facebook business page. With a business page I can create a simple username like @NORADComplex that people can search, but not until I have at least 25 likes and followers."
Schindeler says it would be very helpful and much appreciated if people could like and follow the Facebook page.
You might take a look at Twitter as well. The Twitter handle is @NoradComplex.