CFB Suffield holds first meeting with landowners following Bindloss fire

By Scott Roblin
September 26, 2017 - 5:44pm Updated: September 26, 2017 - 7:21pm

 

SUFFIELD, AB — CFB Suffield has met with landowners affected by the massive fire near Bindloss two weeks ago.

On September 11, disposal of a military ordnance at CFB Suffield sparked the blaze, which burned around 90,000 acres of land.

There were no injuries, but the fire killed 160 head of cattle and destroyed farm land, crops and one home.

Affected land owners met to discuss the incident with government officials later that week, though base official were not present at that meeting.

However, the base have now been in contact with the land owners, holding their first meeting last week.

Lieutenant Colonel Michael Onieu was away during the first meeting of land owners, but says a face-to-face meeting was necessary, given the long history of strained relations between the base and nearby residents.

Onieu says the conversations are needed to earn back the trust of the community.

“It’s only the start in my mind, and until we can show some tangible improvements, I don’t think we’ve necessarily convinced anyone of our good intentions, but we will get there,” he said.

The base isn’t making any protocol updates yet, but new recommendations could be underway. There have been four separate investigations to determine the response to the fire, including inquiries by the base itself, and external parties conducting their own investigations.

Onieu says two of the investigations are completed with results pending, while the other two are ongoing. He adds the base will review the recommendations that come from the investigations.

“Once the results of the investigations are known, they will come with a clear set of facts around what happened, and hopefully some recommendations on how we can do things differently,” he said.

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