Shilo Stag, Manitoba - Jillian Driessen
He is no peeping tom.
There is no need to be alarmed if you see the new RHU regulating officer, Dan Merlin, in your yard.
His position as RHU regulating officer has not come without unique difficulties.
"I've been called a peeping tom!" said Merlin.
Being called a "peeping tom", however, has not dampened Merlin's spirits. He has hopes that as people become more aware of him and what he is doing, they will be less alarmed to find him in their yards.
As the regulating officer, he will be out in the community 20 hours each week examining the conditions of the residential housing units.
Merlin will examine things such as garbage collection, bulk garbage items, fencing, yard maintenance, and base standing orders (BSO).
Several BSO's, such as those on animal control and parking, are often not enforced.
By enforcing BSO's and bylaws, a tidier and more consistent image will be easier to achieve.
Merlin will also enforce BSO 14, which states that after three infractions, a member's Chain of Command will be notified.
For infractions, Merlin will be consulting the regulations listed in the Conditions of Occupancy, which will be renamed the Occupant's Handbook.
"You will receive a letter with all three infractions. It will explain what the infraction is," he explained.
"Most rules are in the Conditions of Occupancy list so if I pick you up for an infraction, such as an unkept lawn where the grass is not cut, we will quote what it says in the handbook about untidy lawns."
With summer moving forward — pools, fencing regulations, and lawns continue to be an issue. Merlin also discovered unregistered vehicles are a growing issue.
"One of the biggest challenges I am finding right now is unregistered vehicles," he said. "There are a lot of unregistered vehicles parked in parking spots and other places.
"CFHA and the standing orders state that you cannot have unregistered vehicles parked in your driveway or in a storage area. It is obvious out there."
Not only are unregistered cars and motorcycles becoming an issue, but off-road vehicles such as ATVs, dirt bikes, and snowmobiles are also cause for concern when it comes to his job on the base.
"The regulations state that any vehicle you own or bring on to the base, whether it is an ATV or other off-road vehicle, has to have plates on it," Merlin said sternly.
As the seasons move forward, some issues will remain, while new ones will arise.
According to Merlin, garbage issues are expected to carry on throughout the year, but issues with yard waste and maintenance as well as snow removal will become issues in autumn and winter.
With Merlin as the RHU regulating officer, there is now a buffer between RHU residents and the Chain of Command.
Merlin said he would like to issue a verbal warming to "nudge" residents to correct infractions before resorting to the three-strike rule.
"I don't want to be portrayed as the cop who is going around sticking it to ya," Merlin said smiling.
Merlin himself is no stranger to army life.
He served as a Class B reservist from 1994 to 2011 and was posted to CFB Shilo from 2008 to 2011.
Before serving as a reservist, Merlin served as a regular CF member for 18 years. He remains a reservist with 26th Field's sub-unit in Portage La Prairie.
In addition to a long-standing military career, Merlin was born into a military family as well.
"I'm a base brat. My dad was artillery. I was born in Germany. We were in Germany, Gagetown, Petawawa — but predominantly Germany," he recalled.
He came to Canada with his family in the 1970s and, despite having several years experience working for CANEX in Germany, struggled to find work.
"I didn't even have enough money for a date," he recalled.
He renounced his German citizenship, joined the Canadian Forces and was posted to CFB Shilo.
"When I came out here to Shilo here in March 1977, I absolutely fell in love with the place. I really did," he said. "Hence, I tried for 30 years to get back here. I love Brandon and I love Shilo."
As a Class B reservist, Merlin was posted to Regina, Edmonton, Victoria and, after several years of waiting, Shilo.
"We always wanted to come back here. We want to put our roots down here," he said. "We want to stay here. It was a great opportunity when the position here came up."
Not a stranger to this base, Merlin is actively working to better the community. His strong understanding of army life will serve as useful as he assists the base commander in enforcing regulations at CFB Shilo.
To contact Merlin for any RHU issues, dial 204-721-2562
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