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Military starts construction of temporary base in Slemon Park


SLEMON PARK, P.E.I. - If the Canadian Armed Forces 4 Engineer Support Regiment was looking for a challenge, Slemon Park has evidently provided one.

“I think they’ve got us setting up in a wind tunnel,” remarked one soldier Friday morning, bracing against a gusting and bitingly-cold wind.

Despite the unpleasant weather, about 50 soldiers were busy working on a large section of empty field and unused pavement next to the Department of Transportation office/garage on Cannon Drive. Two larger groups were hammering in post holes and hooking up razor wire fences while a third was laying out the unit’s command centre tent. Others moved or set up equipment.

“Security first,” noted Lt. Steven Peregoodoff, as he observed the work.

“That’s why we’re doing the perimeter fence first. We set that cordon, then we can start working on the accommodations and all the tentage inside the camp. Then when the main body arrives – it’s like a small town – we occupy it and establish our projects from there,”

Peregoodoff is the commander of an advance unit of the 4 Engineer Support Regiment that arrived on P.E.I., Thursday. They are here to set up the basecamp that will be used by the rest of their unit, about 450 more soldiers, expected to arrive on Nov. 1.

The regiment, which is based in CFB Gagetown, N.B., is here to conduct Exercise NIHILO SAPPER 2018. Groups of soldiers will be traveling across the Island to help with community-based construction projects, the largest of which will be major renovations to the Summerside Boys and Girls Club.

While the unit is on P.E.I., Islanders can expect to see more E-LAVs (armored troop carries) on Island roads and more soldiers around in kit and uniform. The camp being established at Slemon Park will house most of the soldiers, but smaller camps may be established near projects as they’re worked on.

The 4 Engineer Support Regiment is a unit of professional base builders. They built camps for Canadian troops all over the world, most recently for the 250-helicopter task force in Mali.

Each location they work on presents its own challenges, said Peregoodoff, and Slemon Park, with its wind, is no different.

“The tentage loves to fly away – as do the port-o-potties. So that’s a bit of a challenge,” he said.

“When it’s raining and it’s cold the work kind of slows down – we’ve got to take into account the soldiers well-being as well. We don’t want to get them sick because they are in the elements too much, but at the end of the day they are soldiers and they have to comport themselves as such. That means working in austere environments.”

Anyone interested in seeing the military camp, meeting some of the soldiers and getting a look at their gear is invited to an open house on the afternoon of Nov. 10. Exact times are still being worked out.  

@JournalPMacLean

Related: Military engineering exercise will see projects built in multiple P.E.I. communities

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