Troops clearing space at CFB Kingston for Syrian refugees
Graham Slaughter, CTVNews.ca Staff
Published Sunday, November 22, 2015 10:25PM EST
Last Updated Monday, November 23, 2015 12:08PM EST
Soldiers and military personnel at a Kingston, Ont. base are being asked to clear their barracks to make room for an early wave of Syrian refugees arriving in just over a week, CTV News has learned.
Multiple residences at CFB Kingston are being cleared for Nov. 30 to house the refugees, according to an internal memo obtained by CTV News.
The orders will also affect some officer cadets attending the Royal Military College, many of whom are nearing exams.
And while the memo warns of the fast-approaching deadline, it does not indicate where military personnel will be resettled. However, it does say a place will be found for the personnel.
The notice comes just two days after Minister of Immigration and Refugees John McCallum reaffirmed the government’s plan to resettle 25,000 Syrian refugees by the end of 2015.
“We are determined to bring refugees here quickly, but we are also determined to do it right in terms of security and in terms of health,” he said.
“This is the right thing to do,” he added. “It is the Canadian way.”
Sources also tell CTV News that several bases across the country are gearing up to host the newcomers, with a maximum capacity of about 12,000 Syrian refugees.
Earlier this month, CTV News reported details from a document entitled “Operation Syrian Refugees” that suggested up to 900 Syrian refugees a day could arrive in Toronto and Montreal from Lebanon, Jordan and possibly Turkey.
Those arrivals could begin as soon as soon as Dec. 1, the report suggested.
The document also identified places such as Cornwall, Ont. and Trois-Rivières, Que. as possible sites for temporary accommodation.
The document suggested refugees would be identified overseas by the United Nations and then screened by Canadian officials on the ground.
The refugees would be screened once again in Canada before receiving permanent resident status, the document said.
The government is expected to confirm its plan Tuesday.
In the past, military bases have been used to house newcomers to Canada. In 1999, 5,000 refugees from Kosovo were divided between two military bases: CFB Greenwood in Nova Scotia and CFB Trenton in Ontario. Hundreds more refugees were also housed at CFB Kingston, CFB Borden, CFB Aldershot (in Nova Scotia) and CFB Gagetown (in New Brunswick)
Despite short notice, the plan was executed successfully, according to retired Brig.-Gen. Gaston Cloutier, who was on the Trenton base at the time.
“It was hard work, but it was done properly,” he told CTV’s Power Play last month.
With files from Mercedes Stephenson