Home Community Alliston Borden Town Hall Meeting Sparks Discussion

Borden Town Hall Meeting Sparks Discussion

Base Borden Community Council held a Rural Housing Unit Town Hall at the Terra Theatre in Borden, Ontario on 24 October 23 with Base Commander Col Michaud and CPO 1 Wilcox in attendance (MCpl Kenneth Beliwicz/Borden Base Imagery)

The Fall 2023 Town Hall meeting saw the Command Team and representatives from different units tackle relevant issues facing the CAF community and its members

On 24 October, members of the CFB Borden Community Council (BBCC) and the Command Team gathered in the Terra Theatre for a Town Hall meeting to discuss and address the many challenges members are facing regarding housing, childcare, and programming.

The Borden Community Council provides a forum for members to discuss ongoing issues directly with the Command Team and other relevant entities such as the Borden Family Resource Centre (BFRC), Canadian Forces Housing Agency (CFHA), and Personnel Support Programs (PSP).

Following the Base Commander’s opening statements, a representative from each unit gave a briefing on accomplishments in the past year and future goals.

Challenges with housing and accommodations

An area of particular interest was how members being posted to CFB Borden are dealing with the Canada-wide housing crisis. CFHA Housing Manager, Sylvie Hosick, addressed concerns about the cost of living and how CFHA is trying to assist members and their families in this trying time.

“I know where you’re at and I’m involved in the community as well. I really want CFHA to be more present and active in the community, helping you with your living accommodations.”

Base Commander Col Michaud further addressed the need for housing as being an issue of high priority for himself and Base Chief, CPO1 Wilcox. Col Michaud spoke to how housing was one of the most heavily discussed issues at the annual Base/Wing Command Team Forum held in Ottawa this year, which features Base and Wing Command Teams from across the nation meeting and speaking with one another.

“Borden was highlighted for a couple of reasons during that discussion [on housing],” Col Michaud said. “One of the unique things that we have in CFB Borden that other bases don’t is that we have space.”

Col Michaud indicated that there is openness by CFHA to work alongside local industry leaders to help provide innovative housing solutions to members, and how the priority system is being reworked to better suit and represent the needs of today’s members. Col Michaud cautioned, however, that there are still challenges ahead.

“The demand far exceeds capacity, and we are not the only ones seeking aid in that domain,” he stated.

Programs and initiatives

The second briefing came from acting Senior Manager, PSP, Wendy Miller, who covered the many new initiatives and programs that have developed within the last year, such as new features at the HUB, and extended hours of the ‘Safe in our hands’ PLAYCARE program.

One of the exciting upgrades announced was the expansion of the Borden Youth Centre to two additional rooms, including a lifestyle room for teaching life skills and a sports room for physical recreation.

“Some of the equipment we’ve purchased for the lifestyle room are refrigerators, stoves, washers, and dryers,” Miller said. “When teens do come, we’re going to be providing cooking classes, how to set a table and even how to do your laundry.”

While there was excitement about these new initiatives and upgrades, some in attendance shared concerns about the age demographics who may feel left out of the existing programming, specifically, 9- to 11-year-olds.

Miller assured those in attendance that there are talks of creating a definitive space for this age group as the need has been expressed by the community.

Following some discussion, Col Michaud applauded what PSP has been able to accomplish in the last year alongside other initiatives championed by CFMWS.

“If you think back to post COVID-19,” said Col Michaud, “pretty much everything you’ve seen [in this presentation] was designed and implemented in the last 12 months. There’s a lot being invested in services that cater to the greater Borden community. A lot of the programs Wendy talked about are leading across bases. A lot of these programs are pilot programs. Every time someone wants to try something new to benefit the community, we jump on it.”

Resources for CFB Borden families

The Family Navigator at the BFRC, Jennifer Landon, gave the final briefing, starting with the BFRC’s mission and vision.

“Our vision is to be a vibrant community centre which promotes confident, capable, and resilient families,” Landon said. “Our mission is to provide community-based family services which support and enhance your quality of life here on CFB Borden.”

One of the examples offered by Landon to illustrate these three focal points was the childcare program. This program provides full and part-time care between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. for children between the ages of zero and five, Monday through Friday.

Landon encouraged families in attendance to reach out and make the BFRC aware of their needs so that they can get the help that they’re seeking, emphasizing the need for engagement and communication.

“We can’t offer services unless you come to us,” she said.

To conclude the Town Hall, Col Michaud thanked everyone in attendance for coming out, and for the fruitful discussion that came from this event, highlighting how the community of Borden is working together to build a place everyone could be proud to live and work at.

“We have a very unique population,” Col Michaud said. “We have students, we have instructors and support staff, and all those different groups have different requirements. Together we can illustrate the needs that we do have collectively and individually.”

By: Caleb Hooper