Eganville – The population of the small hamlet of Foymount is expected to balloon in size this fall with military exercises on site with around 400 participants over the course of three days and 200 pieces of equipment rumbling around the highest populated spot in Ontario.
“We will have no helicopters in Foymount,” promised Captain Xingyu Chen, plans officer, 2 Service Battalion Canadian Armed Forces, at Bonnechere Valley council last week.
She was alluding to previous concerns about helicopters at night during other operations in Foymount which had disturbed some residents.
“The last time they were there the helicopters were a real crowd pleaser – just not during the night,” Mayor Jennifer Murphy noted.
Capt. Chen said they are very cognizant this is a populated area and their operations will be conducted with this in mind.
“We will be applying noise discipline at night,” she added.
The officer was at council to discuss the exercise and receive permission from council for the operation which will take place from Thursday, October 13 to Sunday, October 16. She noted the battalion is a support unit.
“Our goal is to enhance our tactical skills and abilities to move in battle space,” she said.
There will be various components to the exercise including a presence patrol for engagement with a fictive enemy and reconnaissance, as well as security with observation posts.
“We will not be bringing ammunition,” she noted.
“There will be no night activities outside of our daily routine such as maintaining sentries 24/7,” she said. “The only noise would be from our generators providing power to our command post and vehicles driving in and out from our area.”
Captain Chen said they also hope to have a day on Saturday, October 15 which will be open to the public and media to visit the site.
Mayor Murphy said having the Saturday event was a wonderful idea for people in the area to visit and see the military operation.
Councillor Merv Buckwald cautioned having 400 soldiers and 200 pieces of equipment and all of it located overnight on Foymount might be a tight squeeze.
“How are they going to get enough room up there?” he asked.
Captain Chen said they have a plan in place for the various locations at the former radar base for the soldiers.
“You are putting up tents for 400 people?” asked Coun. Buckwald.
Mayor Murphy said it is good to have the advance notice about what is being planned and the detailed preparations.
“We have a lot of new residents in Foymount who were not there for the last exercise,” she said.
Councillor Jack Roesner said his concern would be the boundaries and where they were exactly, as well as ensuring the soldiers stayed within the boundaries during the exercise.
“This will help with the residents to put their minds at ease,” he said.
Councillor Tim Schison said while many area residents are well aware of the history of Foymount as a military base, some are not.
“I understand the military needs a good place to do operations,” he said.
Mayor Murphy pointed out there are a lot of children in Foymount now, so having the open house will be wonderful for them.
Council gave approval for the exercise, noting there will be a site plan in place of where the operations will take place and the exact locations of the different continents.
As part of her presentation Captain Chen said there will be no obstruction of the fire hall. She showed a diagram of how the various companies – supply and transportation, maintenance and administration – as well as the headquarters would be located at Foymount.
The hamlet of Foymount, which has seen an influx of younger families in recent years, has a population of less than 75. In its time as a radar base from 1950 to 1974, it was a thriving community with many facilities on the site.
Debbi Christinck, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader