DCN ARCHIVES

December 22, 2004

Ontario's military bases armed and ready for major construction

Special report details projects in the works

Much like the rest of Ontario, the Canadian Forces Bases in the province are undergoing a construction boom.

The province is home to CFB Kingston, CFB Borden, CFB Petawawa, CFB Trenton, CFB North Bay and Area Support Units (ASU) Toronto and London, downgraded from a full base.

Defence Construction Canada (DCC), a government department, is responsible for the planning, tendering and contracting for all construction and maintenance work on military bases.

In the recent focus on Kingston (DCN Dec. 14, 2004), the building boom at CFB Kingston, which includes the Royal Military College, is in the midst of a multi-year construction program that is responsible for hundreds of million dollars worth of work. Once slated for possible closure, CFB Kingston was denied construction funds for several years.

Randy McGee, Ontario regional director for DCC, points out that the military infrastructure in Ontario is in good shape.

“They have been maintained well,” he said in an interview. “There is some re-organization stuff that the military needs to deal with. . . . Buildings all need to be maintained and repaired and the Department of National Defence seems to be doing a good job of those.

“Generally,” he added, “next year we’re looking at around $100 million worth of construction and maintenance in the region. It has been in that range for the past number of years.”

CFB Trenton, an air base, is planning additional construction to augment the work that is currently taking place.

Construction continues for the  medical dental facility — a prototype for 20 more — at CFB in Trenton, Ont.

Construction continues for the  medical dental facility — a prototype for 20 more — at CFB in Trenton, Ont.

Construction continues for the medical dental facility — a prototype for 20 more — at CFB in Trenton, Ont.

Photos courtesy Defence Construction Canada

Plans are being developed to install a $2.5-million fire fighting foam system in the Search and Rescue Hanger and to build a $9-million nuclear/biological/chemical building, which will be a design-build structure.

“We’re just into the design phases of both those buildings,” said Vern Haggerty, the base’s site manager. “These projects are going to tender. The NBC building I am estimating to start in October and be completed in the following (12 to 18 months).”

Work on the hanger is expected to begin in July 2005 and be ready by January/February 2006.

More construction is expected to start in the fiscal year 2006-2007.

“I have a new garage/transport facility estimated at $7 million and we are building a new $8-million control tower—that is the third new one in Canada for the air force,” said Haggerty. “Then I have new aircraft refinishing facility estimated at $6 million. It is a big upswing in the next couple of years. We’ve done a lot of infrastructure work over the last 12 years here. I would estimate $220 million worth of work.”

Planning is ongoing for the possibility of work at the Mountain View Training Consolidation Area, a remote site in the Belleville area.

“Now used for storage in the cadet camp (and) as a drop-zone for parachutists,” said Haggerty, “they are looking at a consolidation down. It could include aircraft storage, the cadet camp itself and it could be a training area.”

Haggerty estimates the cost at $10 million.

Under construction currently at CFB Trenton is a $7-million, 40,000-square-foot medical/dental facility, part of a national health care recuperation program.

“We’re the prototype for 20 of these facilities across Canada,” said Haggerty. “It will be finished in March 2006.”

Another $3 million is being spent to work on the shell of the base museum.

“Trenton is here to stay,” said Haggerty. “We’re a transport base and all the United Nations and relief missions that go out of Canada fly out of Trenton.”

ASU London has a tall order on its hands, from major to minor projects.

On the minor side, it is upgrading 13 armouries in the southwestern Ontario region, covering the area from Windsor to Niagara-on-the-Lake, to ensure public areas in each facility are barrier-free.

On the grand scale, Bird Construction Co. Ltd. secured a $14-million contract last October to build a new transport supply and medical dental facility.

“Preliminary construction started about three weeks ago,” said Patricia Baker, the ASU’s site manager. “It should be completed in January 2006. The existing structure is not on the main property and it’s quite old.”

At CFB Borden, a training base, construction is ongoing for two quarters buildings that, when completed, will house 238 people in individual rooms. The $18-million project, secured by Bird Construction, was started in September 2003 and should be completed by February 2005.

As well, an existing facility is being converted into offices for the Canadian Forces nuclear/biological/chemical specialists. This $26-million project, being built by Jeviso Contracting Ltd., has just started, with demolitions being the first phase.

But Ian Ashton, the base’s site manager, says that more construction is expected in the future, including a second phase to the expansion of the quarters’ buildings that will house an additional 120 people.

“We’re awaiting ministerial approval on that,” he said. “We haven’t got the design package and it hasn’t been estimated for tender yet. Because of the closures in other locations in Canada, trainees are being transferred to Borden to centralize the training effort.”

Should the project be approved, Ashton expects that it will go out to tender sometime next summer.

CFB North Bay, while downsizing, is still experiencing construction on the air base grounds. Currently a $3-million community centre is being built—a multi-purpose building that will house a library, daycare and activity rooms.

“That is slated for sometime after April,” said Terry Brownlee, the base’s site manager. “Other than that, we don’t have a whole lot.”

Once home to a fighter wing that scrambled intercepting jet fighters, the base is one of five NORAD early warning sites. Located 600 feet underground, it is home to an underground office building that contains a radar system linked to NORAD headquarters. However, it will be closed when the above-ground facility to replace it is built and synchronized with its soon to be predecessor.

Bird Construction is building the $20-million design-build structure that will be fitted with a new electrical system. This is part of a $90-billion NORAD upgrade. The original plan was for the new structure to be completed by the end of March, but due to the September 11 terrorist attack in New York City, new standards have been established, which will require higher costs, and that has led to building delays.

In the mid-1980’s, the base had 1,100 personnel. When all the construction is done, staffing should be around 180 people. The airport has already been transferred to the municipality, which has converted it into an economic zone. Brownlee says additional buildings will be transferred to North Bay, along with funding to cover the demolitions.

The Canadian forces Housing Agency has plans to tender a project to essentially rebuild 12 homes.

There are also plans to demolish some homes that do not meet modern standards, with the space to be converted into green space. North Bay is responsible for maintenance and upkeep of the armouries in North Bay, Sudbury, Timmins, Sault Ste. Marie and Rouyn Noranda in Quebec. All five are being upgraded to provide barrier-free access, with $550,000 of work ongoing at North Bay and Sault Ste. Marie.

No major projects have been planned for CFB Petawawa and ASU Toronto.

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