Defence union turns up heat on MP Strahl

An effort to stop the closure of the Canadian Forces’ ASU in Chilliwack is being mounted by the Union of National Defence Employees.

A last-ditch effort to stop the closure of the Canadian Forces’ Area Supply Unit in Chilliwack is being mounted by the Union of National Defence Employees.

And Chilliwack-Fraser Canyon MP Mark Strahl is being “targeted specifically” by the union to reverse the decision, Mark Miller, UNDE vice-president in B.C., told The Progress last week.

Strahl should be fighting to keep the ASU open, he said, “instead of kowtowing to the various doctrines of the prime minister.”

“I’m targeting him specifically (because) he’s got the only (ASU) where there’s an actual closure taking place,” he said.

Strahl was not available to comment on the political heat the union is mounting through the newspaper advertising campaign.

When news of the closure broke in April, Strahl said the loss of jobs was “not easy to pass along” to employees, but the Conservative government had to “balance military needs” as Canadian troops came home from Afghanistan with saving taxpayers’ dollars.

But the union is saying the loss of 18 jobs at the ASU will have a direct impact on the community, and have a “huge impact” on local charities.

“You remove those salaries, and the impact on their families spills over to the whole community,” Miller said.

The Progress has learned the annual wages lost will total about $930,000.

The ASU building itself and the property it sits on will be retained by the military for use by reserve units from New Westminster, by military police and by members of the 39 Combat Engineers Regiment, currently located in the “1041 building” nearby.

With the move of the 39 CER, the 1041 building will be turned over as military surplus to the Canada Lands Company, which redeveloped most of the former CFB Chilliwack for residential use.

The 1041 building was renovated just this year, but at what cost was not immediately available.

The University of the Fraser Valley may be interested in acquiring the property, located directly behind its Trades & Technology Centre in the Canada Education Park.

The RCMP’s Pacific Region Training Centre, also located in the education park, may be interested in the property as well, but officials there were also unavailable for comment.

The ASU is slated for closure in fiscal 2013/14.

rfreeman@theprogress.com

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