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September 25, 2018 | Local, Aerospace, Naval, Land

Canadian Forces to expand its presence in Yellowknife


The Canadian Forces is expanding its permanent footprint in northern Canada.

A new building project in Yellowknife will see the construction of a 7,600-m2 building for some of the technical services elements of the Joint Task Force North Area Support Unit, and the 1st Canadian Rangers Patrol Group Headquarters. “The technical services are for supply and materiel management, vehicle maintenance, transport, and traffic (which is mostly responsible for the movement of materiel),” Department of National Defence spokesman Andrew McKelvey noted in an email to Defence Watch.

The project is in the early planning stages, with the request for proposals for the building's design expected to be tendered by mid-2019. The overall project is estimated between $50 million and $99 million and will include offices, an assembly space, which will double as a drill hall, and warehouse and garage space.

There are 52 military and civilian personnel from 1 Canadian Rangers Patrol Group headquarters and 314 military and civilian personnel from Joint Task Force North currently stationed in Yellowknife.

Only the Area Support Unit (North), part of Joint Task Force North, will be moving into the new building with 1 CRPG.

As this project still is in the early planning stages, it is too soon to know this building's exact location, McKelvey said.

Construction is expected to start in the 2020-2021 timeframe, with opening anticipated by 2024.

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    Defence takes a fifth of the federal budget and has often been a target for deficit cutters Murray Brewster The Conservatives have pledged to "protect" the budget of the Department of National Defence even as they work to eliminate the federal deficit. In their election platform, the Tories said they would find $5 billion in savings by cutting operational expenses, but were not clear on precisely what that meant, other than to say it would not affect services to Canadians. The Liberals, through their two-year-old defence policy, committed to increase defence spending by 70 per cent to $32 billion annually by 2024-25 — a program that would unfold at precisely the same time a potential Conservative government intends to cut expenditures.​​ The Liberals have also set in motion plans to buy two of the military's biggest-ticket items — new fighter jets and navy frigates. 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At least two experts wonder how the Conservatives can live up to that pledge in light of the fact the Defence Department is the single biggest discretionary expense on the federal balance sheet and the last two times Conservatives — or Liberals — tried to balance the budget, military spending took major hits. Under the government of former prime minister Stephen Harper, the defence budget was cut by $2.1 billion annually and the department racked up sizeable chunks of lapsed spending, money that was appropriated by Parliament, but not spent. The reduction took place after the Afghan war and the department faced concurrent spending cuts through the Conservative strategy review and deficit reduction action plan. Both Liberal and Conservative governments in the 1990s cut defence spending and postponed buying new equipment, most notably new maritime helicopters, which only came into service in the last few years Defence spending an obvious target "Balancing a federal budget without looking at defence spending is extraordinarily difficult, to impossible," said Dave Perry, an analyst and expert in defence spending at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute. "Defence spending accounts for one-fifth of the federal budget." And even if the Conservatives did look for savings, a change to the accounting structure at Defence leaves little room for them to recoup much money by cancelling or postponing equipment purchases. Reducing the size of the military or the civil service was something previous governments did, but Perry said those kinds of cuts "take two years or more" to make their way through the system. Kevin Page, the former parliamentary budget officer and CEO of the Institute of Fiscal Studies and Democracy, said much of what all of the parties are proposing — and their ability to deliver — is contingent on the kind of Parliament that is elected on Monday. CANADA VOTES How much will the defence file matter to voters? PBO pushes up cost estimate for Canada's frigate build by $8 billion In a minority government scenario, the Conservatives might find themselves struggling to deliver savings outside of the Defence Department, he suggested. Would need majority "If elected, I would assume the Conservatives would need a majority government to push through the savings on direct program spending – infrastructure, wage bills, other operations, corporate and development assistance," Page said. The Liberal record on defence spending is up for debate. An internal DND slide presentation, obtained by CBC News, lays out projections for the department going to up to the 2036-37 fiscal year. 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The slide presentation said part of the reason is that some existing projects came in under budget, but in one-third of the instances the spending delay was because the Defence Department — or the federal government in general — could not get the projects organized.

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