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Minister Blair, Minister Vandal and Michael McLeod break ground on Yellowknife defence facility and highlight housing initiative

The Honourable Bill Blair, Minister of National Defence, the Honourable Dan Vandal, Minister of Northern Affairs, the Honourable R.J. Simpson, Premier of the Northwest Territories, and Michael McLeod, Member of Parliament for the Northwest Territories broke ground on the new National Defence Multipurpose Facility in Yellowknife. Once completed, this facility will enhance the mobility, reach, and footprint of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) in the North and improve our ability to deploy to the region for operations and exercises.

Backed by an investment of approximately $136 million, the project will see the construction of a new, 9,200-m2 headquarters building for the 1st Canadian Rangers Patrol Group (1 CRPG) as well as elements of Joint Task Force (North), in Yellowknife. The new facility will include offices and classroom space for administrative and training purposes, an assembly space which will double as a drill hall, and space for vehicle maintenance and warehouse storage. 

Currently, some components of Joint Task Force (North) and 1 CRPG are distributed amongst several disconnected temporary sites in Yellowknife. This project will consolidate these units in one secure compound, providing the necessary space to support their current and future operations and enhance collaboration more efficiently. The construction of the facility will sustain roughly 520 jobs and is expected to be completed in winter 2026-27.

The construction of this new multipurpose building is a good example of well-used public land. During their visit to National Defence lands in Yellowknife, Minister Blair, Minister Vandal and Mr. McLeod also noted that through Budget 2024, the government will transform its approach to public land and lead a national effort to unlock public lands for housing. In particular, the Government is conducting a rapid review of its entire federal lands portfolio to identify more lands for housing, in partnership with provinces, territories, and municipalities. Canada expects this review to identify additional public lands that are promising for housing, including some of the 622 National Defence sites across Canada – many of which are not fully utilized. As the results of this review come through, the Government will work with the housing sector to build homes wherever possible.

In addition, thanks to the investments in Budget 2024 and Our North, Strong and Free, the Government of Canada will invest to build and renovate housing for Canadian Armed Forces personnel on bases across Canada – including building up to 1,400 new homes and renovating an additional 2,500 existing units for military personnel.

Investing in the Yellowknife multipurpose facility is just one way that Canada boosting the Canadian Armed Forces’ presence in the Arctic and northern regions in response to new and emerging threats. Through Our North, Strong and Free, the Government of Canada is also investing:

  • $218 million over 20 years for Northern Operational Support Hubs to better ensure Canadian sovereignty by establishing a greater year-round presence across the Arctic and the North, and invest in multi-use infrastructure that also meets the needs of territories, Indigenous Peoples, and Northern communities.
  • $18.4 billion over 20 years to acquire a more modern, mobile, and effective tactical helicopter capability. This will provide the CAF with the speed and airlift capacity to assert Canada’s sovereignty and respond to natural disasters and emergencies throughout the country.
  • $307 million over 20 years for airborne early warning aircraft that will vastly improve Canada’s ability to detect, track, and prioritize airborne threats sooner, ensuring a faster, better coordinated response with the United States when required.
  • $1.4 billion over 20 years to acquire specialized maritime sensors to conduct ocean surveillance. They will be used to monitor Canada’s maritime approaches, including in the Arctic and North, and will be a critical component of the CAFs’ ability to defend Canada from a growing range and sophistication of underwater threats, including vessel-launched missiles, underwater systems, ships, and submarines, on all three coasts.

As the Arctic warms at four times the global average and becomes more accessible, and as we deal with increased Russian and Chinese military capabilities in the region, the investments in Our North, Strong and Free will protect Canadian sovereignty and enable a more persistent military presence in the Arctic.

“The construction of this new multi-purpose facility in Yellowknife will improve the Canadian Armed Forces’ ability to deploy to the Northwest Territories and is a significant step towards a more robust military presence in the region. Through this investment, and the measures in Our North, Strong and Free, we are prioritizing Arctic sovereignty to keep Canadians safe in a changing world.”

The Honourable Bill Blair, Minister of National Defence

“Through Our North, Strong and Free, Canada is investing in the security of the North and taking the necessary measures to protect the Arctic from new and emerging security challenges. In addition to those measures, the construction of this new multipurpose building will support Canadian Armed Forces operations in the North, and provide the Canadian Rangers with better, more modern facilities to carry out their work.”

The Honourable Dan Vandal, Minister of Northern Affairs

 “This new multi-purpose building will bring together the Canadian Rangers and different elements of Joint Task Force (North) in a modern facility that meets their needs. This is good news for Canadian Armed Forces members deployed to Yellowknife, and for this entire territory. I welcome the beginning of construction on this facility, and I look forward to its completion.”

Michael McLeod, Member of Parliament for the Northwest Territories

ADDITIONAL INFO

  • Joint Task Force (North) is one of six CAF regional joint task forces situated in key areas across Canada. JTF(N) helps Canada maintain full awareness of security and defence conditions in the North.
  • 1 CRPG is comprised of 2,000 Canadian Rangers in 61 patrols, and more than 1,400 Junior Canadian Rangers in 44 patrols in 65 communities across the North.
  • A $1.8 million contract for the design of this facility was awarded in November 2020 to PCL Construction Management from Edmonton, Alberta. Construction of the facility will also be completed by PCL Construction Management and is estimated at approximately $97 million.
  • This project includes an Indigenous Benefits Plan as part of the design and construction contract, which requires the contractor to engage with Indigenous groups to provide business opportunities.
  • This facility will meet the objectives of the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy, the Greening Government Strategy, the Defence Climate and Sustainability Strategy and will be certified LEED® Silver. The Department of National Defence (DND) worked with the contractor to determine the best combination of energy sources and building features to meet its greenhouse gas emissions targets. To date, DND has reduced greenhouse gas emissions from its buildings and non-military vehicles by 35.9% across Canada, compared with 2005 levels.
  • This build will prioritize using renewable energy and consider the building’s entire life cycle during design and for maintenance while ensuring it meets operational requirements. This can be especially challenging in the sub-Arctic, which is why regional environmental practices such as wood pellets for energy will be used.
  • With the new Public Lands for Homes Plan, the federal government will unlock 250,000 new homes by 2031, by using all tools available to convert public lands to housing (such as unused or underused office towers or parking lots), including leasing, acquiring other public lands for housing, and retaining ownership, whenever possible.
  • As announced in Budget 2024, we will build homes on National Defence lands by exploring the redevelopment of properties that could be suitable for both military and civilian uses, divesting 14 surplus properties with housing potential, and building and renovating housing for Canadian Armed Forces personnel on bases.

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