DND’s new ops build­ing near HQ to cost $1.1B

Ottawa Citizen - - FRONT PAGE - DAVID PUGLIESE

The De­part­ment of Na­tional De­fence is plan­ning a new $1.1-bil­lion build­ing in Ot­tawa’s west end, even while em­ploy­ees are set­tling into its $800-mil­lion head­quar­ters com­plex at the for­mer Nor­tel cam­pus.

The de­part­ment has set its sights on what it calls a new op­er­a­tional head­quar­ters, which it ex­pects to host 4,500 civil­ian and mil­i­tary per­son­nel. That fa­cil­ity will be in ad­di­tion to the head­quar­ters at what was once the tech­nol­ogy com­pany’s cam­pus on Car­ling Av­enue. which will house al­most 9,000 em­ploy­ees. DND also in­tends to keep its mas­sive com­plex at 101 Colonel By Drive in downtown Ot­tawa.

The new op­er­a­tional head­quar­ters, to be con­structed in the midto-late 2020s, will be lo­cated close to the Nor­tel site and will be home to var­i­ous com­mands in­clud­ing the Cana­dian Spe­cial Op­er­a­tions Forces Com­mand and the Cana­dian Joint Op­er­a­tions Com­mand, DND spokesman Daniel Le Bouthillier con­firmed. The of­fice of the vicechief of the de­fence staff will also be lo­cated in the new build­ing.

“In or­der to cen­tral­ize th­ese ef­forts, the De­part­ment of Na­tional De­fence re­quires a modern fa­cil­ity that en­ables se­cure joint op­er­a­tional com­mand, con­trol, com­mu­ni­ca­tions, co­or­di­na­tion and ca­pa­bil­i­ties for op­er­a­tional plan­ning and con­trol of Cana­dian Armed Forces op­er­a­tions do­mes­ti­cally, con­ti­nen­tally and glob­ally,” said Le Bouthillier.

The plan will see em­ploy­ees mov­ing into the new op­er­a­tional head­quar­ters start­ing around 2029, after which DND would va­cate its fa­cil­ity at Star Top Rd. in Ot­tawa’s east end.

It is not clear whether another de­part­ment would move into that build­ing, which is owned by a pri­vate com­pany and leased by the fed­eral govern­ment.

The govern­ment an­nounced last week it wants to hire an ar­chi­tec­tural and en­gi­neer­ing firm to de­sign the new 75,000-square-me­tre (807,000-sq.-ft.) fa­cil­ity — an ad­vance no­tice so in­ter­ested par­ties could ap­ply for se­cu­rity clear­ances nec­es­sary to bid on the con­tract.

In mak­ing a case to spend the orig­i­nal $800 mil­lion on the Nor­tel com­plex, se­nior DND of­fi­cials claimed there would be sub­stan­tial sav­ings from con­sol­i­dat­ing em­ploy­ees in the one lo­ca­tion, ar­gu­ing that the 42 DND and Cana­dian Forces of­fice lo­ca­tions in Ot­tawa and Gatineau would be re­duced to seven or fewer, lead­ing to sav­ings of $750 mil­lion in of­fice rent alone over the sub­se­quent 25 years. No men­tion was ever made of the need for an ad­di­tional pur­pose-built fa­cil­ity.

But Le Bouthillier said the Lib­eral govern­ment’s new de­fence pol­icy out­lined the need to have a sin­gle op­er­a­tional hub to en­able the key mil­i­tary com­mands to pro­duce ac­cu­rate and timely ad­vice, im­prov­ing com­mand and con­trol for mil­i­tary de­ci­sion mak­ers, in­creas­ing in­for­ma­tion shar­ing and boost­ing the pro­tec­tion for key mil­i­tary per­son­nel in case of a nat­u­ral dis­as­ter or other se­cu­rity in­ci­dents. The spe­cific lo­ca­tion of the new head­quar­ters will be de­ter­mined dur­ing the op­tions anal­y­sis phase of the project, but it will be close to the Car­ling site, he said.

Be­tween the Nor­tel cam­pus and the new head­quar­ters, more than 13,000 of the 20,500 DND em­ploy­ees and Cana­dian Forces per­son­nel work­ing in lo­ca­tions through­out Ot­tawa and Gatineau will even­tu­ally be con­cen­trated in Ot­tawa’s west end. To date, only 3,600 of the planned 9,000 staff have moved into the for­mer Nor­tel com­plex, the re­lo­ca­tion process run­ning about two years be­hind sched­ule.

Some DND em­ploy­ees and Cana­dian Forces per­son­nel have voiced con­cern over the move to the Car­ling Av­enue site, point­ing out that many live in Or­léans and the com­mute will be long. A June 2011 brief­ing note pre­pared for then-deputy min­is­ter Robert Fon­berg de­scribed the Car­ling site as a “rel­a­tively re­mote lo­ca­tion.”

Some DND civil­ian em­ploy­ees have opted to take jobs with other fed­eral de­part­ments rather than work in the west end of Ot­tawa, but the govern­ment was un­able to pro­vide de­tails about ex­actly how many have done so.

JAMES PARK FILES

The De­fence De­part­ment claims there will be sav­ings con­sol­i­dat­ing em­ploy­ees in one lo­ca­tion.

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