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RoyalDrew said:The answer is quite simple, those towns where the bases existed didn't want them there (property was too valuable) and they allied with the penny pinchers in government to get them moved because it was also costing the government a tonne of money to have to bug the Army out every time they wanted to train. For example, the Brigade in Edmonton has to do a road move to Wainwright every time they want to do an exercise, this costs a lot of money.
We used to have Regiments in Chillwack, Calgary, Winnipeg and London. Now, the only two true urban bases for the Army are Val-Cartier and Edmonton with Gagetown being pseudo-urban due to the relatively close proximity to Fredericton (I don't count Kingston as an Army base). My prediction is you will see the Edmonton Garrison move to Wainwright sooner, rather than later. That new maintenance building they built, which is now the largest floor hockey rink in the CAF is probably going to be the future home of the Lord Strathcona's Horse
European Armies get by just fine with having their Regiments in cities so why do we insist on doing the opposite? I guess because it costs less, theoretically, but we are robbing peter to pay paul at the end of the day.
We could save a lot of money if we just did a lot of low-level training in town but Canadians (especially of the urbanite variety) don't like seeing soldiers with guns running around on their streets. If you go to Europe you will often see soldiers on exercise out in the towns and villages, some locals aren't happy but you can't please everyone. They have ranges and training areas of course but there is no reason we can't do a lot of training out in the suburbs or bedroom communities of big cities. Just requires some staff work, appropriate clearances, waivers and a couple of hand shakes.
The grass is always greener...
I recall the British Army types literally drooling at the fact that we have our units located right next to awesome training areas. They have to send their regiments thousands of miles to do what we can do in our back yards.
And having 'jousted' for the hugely overworked training areas in the UK on a regular basis, I can tell you that being forced to do military training in a heavily urbanized area will make you go prematurely bald... like me ;D