Chilliwack to welcome the ‘Westies’
Chilliwack will soon have a stronger Canadian Forces reserve outfit in town, but at the heels of the Area Support Unit’s closure.
The Royal Westminster Regiment’s Aldergove detachment is relocating to the 5535 Korea Road building in Chilliwack by April 1. The regiment hopes to bring a “platoon-sized element” of 30 reserve infantry units to the base.
The New Westminster headquarters say the move is in line with the regiment’s historical presence at either end of the County of Westminster.
“We’re maintaining that footprint in the Fraser Valley, but consolidating,” says Captain Braden Greaves, adjutant for the Royal Westminster Regiment. “Instead of having some reserve functions in Chilliwack and some in Aldergrove, we’re just going on opposite ends of the Fraser Valley.”
Meanwhile, the Canadian Forces continue to reduce its dedicated support units nationwide, and Chilliwack’s ASU is no exception. The ASU will close sometime in March, before the end of its fiscal year on 31 March. Chilliwack’s service battalion will take over many of its functions.
Of the 40 current ASU military staff, 13 will remain at the Chilliwack base in other capacities, and 27 will be reallocated to various Canadian Forces departments across the country.
According to Major W. H. Brinkman of the ASU, the Canadian Forces will maintain its current level of funding for reserve units, to ensure that staff are able to respond to any domestic crises, such as flooding or fire.
“The reserves continue to be a priority for the department,” says Brinkman.
Although there will be no job losses for ASU military staff, 17 of the 22 full-time civilians within the department are losing their jobs. Four have already found other public service positions, while some are taking the opportunity to retire. The contracts of all 11 casual ASU staff will likewise not be renewed beyond March.
The cuts are part of the federal government’s drive to reduce the number of public service staff, says Brinkman, and new civilian jobs are unlikely.
“Currently, and for the next several years, it will be an exercise in rationalizing and reducing the number of civilians that we have in the public service,” he says.
In other news, the 1041 Caen Road building has been deemed surplus, and Ottawa is in the early stages of determining the structure’s fate.
Brinkman expects that following this phase of restructuring, there will be at least a couple of years of stability for the Canadian Forces in Chilliwack.