Mil­i­tary bases to be pri­va­tized

Tories re­main mum on de­tails

Ottawa Citizen - - CANADA - DAVID PUGLIESE

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.

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