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June 4, 2009

ICI Building

Security behind boom for Ottawa industry

Defence plans $1 billion spending for CSE

OTTAWA

Modern security requirements spell good business for the Ottawa construction industry.

The federal defence department has announced projects totalling $1 billion over the next seven years, much of it for a new headquarters for the Communications Security Establishment (CSE).

That project alone will cost an estimated $800 million, although it is not yet known how much of that will be for construction and how much for more of the sophisticated communications spying equipment the agency uses.

Work is to begin on the new building in 2011, with completion set for 2016. A spokesperson for the agency said that although the building has not yet been designed, it will, at 775,000 square feet, be bigger but than the defence department’s headquarters’ building in downtown Ottawa. It will be built in the city’s near east end, on property now partially occupied by the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service.

The CSE intercepts, decodes and translates phone calls and e-mails involving countries considered to be adversaries of Canada. It also provides security for government communications systems. It has about 1,700 employees scattered over several locations in the city.

There has been no announcement of plans for the agency’s old cross-town headquarters.

A four-storey building of 65,000 square feet, is already under way on the new site to provide the agency with urgently needed space. It will be finished in 2011 at a cost of $62 million.

And a five-storey, 69-million addition to the adjacent CSIS building is also under way.

On top of that, as much as $117 in new construction is being considered for Canadian Forces Base Petawawa, to support new helicopters the defence department wants to station there. Petawawa is an hour’s drive northwest of Ottawa.

The building for the defence department is by no means all that the federal government has on its construction schedule.

A permit has been issued for foundation work on a new headquarters building for Export Development Canada (EDC).

The 19-storey building will be 403,000 square feet with three storeys of underground parking. Broccolini Construction and Canderel are building the project.

The local development and construction industries have been abuzz since late last year, when Public Works and Government Services Canada issued a request for information on up to 3.9 million square feet of space for lease by 2011.

That request led to deals that include moving federal employees into 710,000 feet of space in a west-end campus formerly occupied by Nortel Networks, a new downtown building put up by Minto, and the space planned for EDC.

The refurbished Nortel space will accommodate more than 1,200 employees presently occupying Agriculture Canada’s 42-year-old Sir John Carling Building, which is to be taken down.

In the far west end, 65,800 feet are being taken by the government, although there is has been no word about which department is involved.

In the downtown core, games of musical chairs are being played, as the defence department moves some of its employees from a 48-year-old building to a building where Bell Canada is moving out of about 61,000 feet. Those employees will be moved to another Bell-owned building in the downtown core.

In the meantime, the government has purchased a prime, 29-acre parcel of land adjacent to an expressway interchange in the east end. The site once housed provincial government offices, which have since been consolidated with other provincial ministries under one roof in the city’s Little Italy district.

Underutilized buildings have been taken down, and when the site was completely decommissioned, an environmental clean-up was done.

The federal government so far has made no public statement about what it plans for the land.

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