Planning and consultation keys to long-term real property vision

The release of a plan for how the Department of National Defence (DND) will use its buildings and land in the National Capital Region (NCR) over the next 30 years marked a milestone for DCC’s real property team.

Real property planning has become one of DCC’s key services in the last few years. To date, the team has completed real property plans for the Royal Canadian Navy and Defence Research and Development Canada, and others are ongoing across Canada.

The NCR plan, which was approved by DND last September, was particularly complex and required more than two years’ work by Jeff O’Neill, Team Leader, Real Property Management, and his DCC colleagues, led by senior staff from the Vice Chief of the Defence Staff and DND's Infrastructure and Environment (IE) Group.

The region is home to more than 20,000 DND and Canadian Armed Forces employees. The real property portfolio encompasses more than 1,800 hectares of land, 72 sites and more than 250 major buildings, totalling roughly 600,000 m2 of floor space. Having a long-term plan in place is key to ensuring that real property is used effectively and efficiently over time.

The first stage of developing the plan required taking stock of the current real property situation—cataloguing assets, as well as noting how they are used, their condition and any environmental and heritage issues.

Extensive consultation with stakeholders came next. For the NCR plan, that meant speaking with representatives from the cities of Ottawa and Gatineau, the National Capital Commission, as well as Public Works and Government Services Canada, and the Ottawa Airport Authority as well as DND organizations.

“These consultations were very important to the planning process,” says O’Neill. “We wanted to see what stakeholders’ long-term plans were for the areas of the region that are the current or future locations for DND activities, to see whether there were any conflicts or opportunities for cooperation.”

During the final step in the process, options for moving forward were developed. They looked at what buildings are to be built, land repurposed or other infrastructure changed—to take advantage of opportunities for consolidation and promote efficiency.

For all real property plans, the DCC team works closely with DND staff and senior managers at every stage. In fact, DCC staff were embedded with their DND colleagues at times while developing the NCR plan. DCC Geographic Information Systems analysts supported the effort by providing the maps and other illustrations that make up a large part of the very visual plan.

The plan was very well received and has helped solidify the good working relationship between DND and DCC in the area of planning, O’Neill says. He and his colleagues are currently finishing a plan for CFB Halifax, have begun assisting ADM(IE) with their national plan for DND, and continue to help individual DND bases/wings with their local plans.

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