CFB Esquimalt commander

CFB Esquimalt commander

Reaching out to the military community

CFB Esquimalt commander navy Capt. Craig Baines broadens his reach to military and civilian personnel in some surprising ways



With about six months left to go in his job as commander of CFB Esquimalt, navy Capt. Craig Baines is focused on checking off a number of items on his to-do list.

“We kind of joke with the other municipalities that we’re the 14th municipality in a sense and I think it’s a good metaphor to say that I’m the mayor of that municipality,” he says. “My responsibilities are very similar, actually.”

Base commanders typically serve for two years, before being assigned to another position elsewhere. Baines hasn’t received his official message yet, telling him when or where his next challenge will be.

The 44-year-old Esquimalt resident heads over to the large desk in his office and taps at his keyboard to access the schedule on his computer.

Baines divides his time between meeting with mayors, base union officials and external organizations such as the United Way of Greater Victoria and the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce, among others.

In addition to being in charge of base security – the base was the final destination of the migrant ship MV Sun Sea that arrived carrying hundreds of Tamils in 2010 – and being the ultimate authority in employee disciplinary action, he also regularly meets with a team of officers who lead different departments at the base.

With their input, Baines prioritizes where 1,000 civilian employees are best employed, and how best to spend the base’s $130-million annual budget. He also leads 1,500 military members.

“We’ve been grappling with managing our workforce to the appropriate levels,” he says, adding that though a lot of strategic change is coming, no announcement has been made.

Until then, one of Baines’ priorities is to “live within our means,” despite the challenge that involves, as well as ensuring the well-being of the 1,000 civilians and 1,500 military members – not counting fleet personnel – under his command.

With them in mind, the commander hopes to sign a contract in January for a coffee company to set up shop at Nelles Block in April, where many junior non-commissioned members live.

The creation of a gathering place, which the coffee drinker says he plans to visit daily, is meant to improve quality of life for those working on the Naden side of the base. There is already a canteen at dockyard.

“It’s a meeting place,” Baines says.

His team is also putting the finishing touches on a new online hub, a groundbreaking website believed to be the first of its kind for the Canadian Forces.

The internal communications portal will allow civilian employees and military personnel to post their ideas and feedback on issues and changes at the base.

The website, called “Our Base,” is set to launch the first week of January, and will feature the base commander’s blog, a comic, new initiatives spawned from members’ ideas, a link to the base newspaper and videos, among other features.

Baines is looking forward to reading comments, which can be immediately posted with a name or vetted and eventually posted if sent anonymously.

“A lot of times the people who are actually doing the work have great ideas on how to do that work better,” Baines says. “But because we are in a hierarchical system, it is sometimes difficult for them to get those ideas to the decision makers.”

One of his objectives since his term began in 2010 has been to create a climate in which those ideas are encouraged and put into practice.

“Most of the time we communicate to people,” Baines says. “What we want to do is communicate with people. When you have 2,500 people working for you it’s hard to do that.”

The web portal will allow the commander to explain decisions, such as why staffing positions may be filled in certain units over others, for example.

“Not all those decisions will be supported, not all those decisions will make people happy,” Baines says. “But my belief is if you can provide people with context and let them understand the ‘why’ behind this stuff, it’s much better than trying to impose change without explaining it.”

emccracken@vicnews.com

 

Check out www.vicnews.com to watch a video that accompanies this story.

 

Just Posted

Colin Davidson won $100K on a Set for Life scratch ticket in Sooke. (BCLC photo)
Sooke man does ‘happy dance’ after scratching a $100,000 Set for Life win

Colin Davidson plans to renovate his home and invest in his daughter’s education

UVic Department of Anthropology chair and professor, April Nowell, at home with a copy of her new book, Growing Up In the Ice Age. (Courtesy of April Nowell)
New book by University of Victoria professor explores lives of Ice Age children

April Nowell spent two decades researching archaeological evidence of children, teens

Saanich Neighbourhood Place is hoping to open the doors to its new centre in July, pending final council approval. (Black Press Media file photo)
Saanich childcare agency awaits final approval on much-needed new facility

Saanich Neighbourhood Place keen to open new centre this summer, expand options for community

Proposed design for the Topaz Park bike and skate park elements. (Courtesy City of Victoria)
Victoria requesting feedback on Topaz Park redesign

Public input now being taken for proposed skate, bike park ideas

Victoria police are searching for high-risk missing woman Chloe Morrison who was last seen in Victoria June 13. (Courtesy of VicPD)
MISSING: Chloe Morrison, last seen in Victoria

Morrison, 25, was last seen shortly after 2 p.m. June 13

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre estimates that less than five per cent of mass-marketing fraud is ever reported.
Tips to avoid scams targeting Vancouver Island seniors

In most cases, fraudsters impersonate an individual, business or agency seniors recognize and trust

The cannabis dispensary store, located at 1024 Clark Drive in East Vancouver. (Instagram/Budwayonclark)
Vancouver pot shop owner ordered to pay $40K for copying Subway

Store’s mascot is a red-eyed, cannabis-filled smoking sandwich

Vancouver courthouse. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Man loses bid to appeal conviction for 1999 rape at Abbotsford music festival

James Redden, 53, formerly of Nanaimo, was found guilty in 2019 following six-day trial

A health-care worker holds up a sign signalling she needs more COVID-19 vaccines at the ‘hockey hub’ mass vaccination facility at the CAA Centre during the COVID-19 pandemic in Brampton, Ont., on Friday, June 4, 2021. This NHL-sized hockey rink is one of CanadaÕs largest vaccination centres. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
‘Vaxxed to the max’: Feds launch Ask an Expert campaign to encourage COVID shots

Survey shows that confidence in vaccines has risen this spring

Port Alberni court house (Alberni Valley News)
Inquest set into 2016 death of B.C. teen after a day spent in police custody

18-year-old Jocelyn George died of heart failure in hospital after spending time in jail cell

Children’s shoes and flowers are shown after being placed outside the Ontario legislature in Toronto on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Ontario commits $10 million to investigate burial sites at residential schools

Truth and Reconciliation Commission identified 12 locations of unmarked burial sites in Ontario

Singer-songwriter Jann Arden is pictured with a draft horse. (Canadian Horse Defence Coalition)
Jann Arden backs petition to stop ‘appalling’ live horse export, slaughter

June 14 is the International Day to End Live Export of Animals

Two hundred and fifteen lights are placed on the lawn outside the Residential School in Kamloops, B.C., Saturday, June, 13, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former Kamloops Indian Residential School earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Days after Kamloops remains discovery, Tk’emlups families gather to unite, move ahead

‘We have to work together because this is going to be setting a precedent for the rest of the country’

Most Read