Military bases to be privatized
Tories remain mum on details
The Conservative government refused Tuesday to identify which military installations will be affected by its sweeping plan to privatize the management of some buildings and facilities, while opposition MPs decried the scheme as being based on ideology and not sound business practices.
The Citizen broke the story that the Defence Department will turn to the private sector to help manage its vast holdings of properties and plans to have a number of companies in place by 2015 to handle that job.
The department is the largest landholder in the federal government, with more than two million hectares from coast to coast. Holdings also include 20,000 buildings as well as 23 major installations such as CFB Petawawa.
The plan, signed off Dec. 20 by Deputy Minister Robert Fonberg and Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Tom Lawson, is the department’s answer to concerns raised by Auditor General Michael Ferguson about crumbling and aging military infrastructure.
In the Commons on Tuesday, Defence Minister Peter MacKay responded to opposition questions by repeating the government’s approved media lines provided earlier to the Citizen. “The department will leverage private sector capabilities with the realignment of internal resources to oversee the right mix of in-house and external delivery options,” MacKay noted.
But NDP defence critic Jack Harris accused the Conservative government of “blindly giving up the management of military bases to the private sector with no clue on how it will affect military communities or the bottom line.”
The Defence Department has created “Tiger Teams” to help with the process, which includes cataloguing potential sites that companies could manage.
In the Ottawa area those could include Connaught Range, the Dwyer Hill Training Area, facilities at Leitrim and Dow’s Lake, Defence Research and Development Canada locations, as well as National Defence headquarters. Canadian Forces Base Petawawa is also on the list compiled by the DND Real Property Management Renewal Tiger Team.
Many armouries across Canada and a number of bases, including CFB Esquimalt, CFB Edmonton, CFB Halifax, and CFB Gagetown are also on the list.
Inclusion on the list, however, doesn’t automatically mean private sector firms will run those installations.
The first phase of the DND plan, to be completed early this year, would look at various operating scenarios, while the second phase, completed by early 2014, would develop the procurement strategy to move the property management over to private firms. The third phase, to be completed in early 2015 “will transition the transfer of specific real property management services to the private sector,” Fonberg and Lawson point out.