Outgoing Base Commander bids farewell to Esquimalt

Navy News / July 10, 2019

 By Sub-Lieutenant M.X. Déry

From sitting on the Chamber of Commerce to hosting Defence on the Dock, after two years of connecting with the local community and being the “14th mayor” of Greater Victoria, Captain (Navy) (Capt(N)) Jason Boyd bids farewell to his role as Base Commander of Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Esquimalt, B.C.

“It’s been a journey of learning these past two years,” said Capt(N) Boyd. “As a ship driver, everything that happens on the base was new to me, but I was fortunate to inherit a base that was in good shape.”

With approximately 6,500 personnel, CFB Esquimalt is the third largest employer in Greater Victoria, and akin to a self-contained city with its own fire and police department, post office, homes and food services.

“There is such a huge spectrum of military and civilian leadership within the base and I still don’t know them all,” said Capt(N) Boyd.

Despite dealing with a much larger and more diverse workforce than he had experienced on a warship, he worked to maintain his leadership style.

“To go from the pointy end of things to the operational support side was a shift, but I tried not to change my approach, whether dealing with two people or 2,000,” said Capt(N) Boyd. “Treat people with respect; give people a voice. Everyone has a role to play.”

Outside the guardrails, Capt(N) Boyd met with the mayors of the 13 municipalities of Greater Victoria in order to connect with the community and break down some of the barriers caused by having a gated base.

“For me it was all about de-mystifying what we do here for the community,” said Capt(N) Boyd. “People drive by on Admiral’s Road and that is one of the only public views they have of the base. What isn’t intuitive to the public is that we are your neighbours, we’re your hockey coaches, we’re your Beaver and Scout leaders, we are part of the community.”

When possible, he brought the community to the base and when it wasn’t, he brought the base to the community. Defence on the Dock last year brought CFB Esquimalt to Ogden Point to showcase the Canadian Armed Forces to approximately 7,000 attendees.

But a major highlight for Capt(N) Boyd came when his love of hockey and his naval career coalesced with Rogers Hometown Hockey at CFB Esquimalt.

“That’s a pretty tough one to beat,” he said with a smile. “Being on Roger’s Hometown Hockey on TV with Don Cherry and Ron MacLean and Tara Slone – that’s a once in a lifetime event.”

Weeks before departing, Capt(N) Boyd continued to push for new connections within the community, meeting with the Pacific Whale Watching Association to introduce the idea of bringing whale watchers into Esquimalt Harbour to showcase the navy.

“Their clientele is from all over the world and this is a way to show them Canada’s Pacific Fleet.”

Despite leaving his position as Base Commander, this is not farewell to the RCN or even the West Coast.

“It was an option I didn’t think was even on the table,” said Capt(N) Boyd about his future command of the Naval Personnel and Training Group, an organization undergoing substantial change.

“To get the opportunity to be part of an organization that will have a lasting impact on the RCN and to allow my daughter to finish high school on this coast – it turned out to be a win-win.”

To Capt(N) Sam Sader, the incoming Base Commander, he suggests getting to know the people and the community before deciding on the priorities moving forward.

“Get a fix on the chart,” said Capt(N) Boyd. “The agenda will drive itself once you meet the people.”