The base commander of Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Kingston, Col. Kirk Gallinger, addressed several dozen members of the Canadian Club at their monthly luncheon.
His speech to the group was an update on investment at the base and the challenges that military personnel face moving forward.
CFB Kingston has close to 8,000 military and civilian personnel, making it an important economic driver in the Limestone City.
Currently, millions of dollars are being spent to address aging infrastructure, such as roads, sewers and buildings, on the armed forces base.
Gallinger says new buildings are also being constructed.
“In the spring, maybe summer, we’ll be opening up a brand-new logistics building that is about a $40-million investment,” he said.
There are also current challenges that have no quick fix.
Access to health care for military families is an issue, according to the base commander.
“Access to health care, access to mental health supports for family members,” he added.
A typical posting at the base is about three years. If a military family member needs the care of a specialist, the time it takes to get an appointment, perform an assessment and receive care is too long, he says.
“Usually, when all that gets tapped, sorted out, that’s the time when the poor family gets moved again,” Gallinger explained.
Quite often, that means restarting the entire process.
Gallinger says CFB Kingston is in the early stages of looking at possibilities like telehealth services.
“That is a plan that I really need to engage with the military family services to address if that’s feasible,” he said.
Affordable housing is another issue with which military personnel in Kingston struggle.
The municipality has a 0.6% vacancy rate — one of the lowest in the country — making it difficult for military personnel and families to find accommodations when they arrive, says Gallinger.
“If they have to live outside the area, they have to ask for permission so I’m aware of people that are as far down as Napanee — and even further — because that’s where they’ve had to go to find something they can afford or something that’s available,” he explained.
While on-base housing is improving through renovations, there will never be enough to house everyone on site, the colonel says.
“As we’re taking accommodations offline to renovate, we’re very careful about the number we’re taking offline so that we don’t impact the situation,” he added.
Gallinger says the housing issue will probably need more than one solution and require co-operation with a number of partners, both military and civilian.
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