The Canadian Armed Forces Primary Reserves Infrastructure Strategic Asset Study - Backgrounder

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Backgrounder / November 8, 2018 / Project number: 18-0251

Ottawa, Ontario – The Department of National Defence (DND) has launched The Canadian Armed Forces Primary Reserves Infrastructure Strategic Asset Study, an extensive study of Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) Primary Reserves (PRes) assets, which include Armouries, Naval Reserve Divisions (NRDs) armouries and other properties across the country to ensure they will meet the organization’s strategic needs into the future.

The Department is inspecting buildings and preparing for the future of the CAF by making sure Reservists have the most suitable and cost-effective work environments. Moreover, the Canadian Army’s ability to meet Canada’s defence needs now and into the future will rely heavily on the PRes.

The PRes infrastructure study is about understanding Reserve requirements and then enabling their enhanced roles by ensuring each unit has the means to achieve what is demanded of them. The Canadian Army will then be better able to use PRes units to augment current Canadian Army capabilities to meet operational needs.

DND’s Assistant Deputy Minister (Infrastructure and Environment), also known as ADM (IE), initiated study to optimize and modernize PRes assets.

The study is examining 185 PRes properties across the country, which includes Army, Navy, Air Force and Health Services assets, to determine which need repairs, where new assets may be needed, and identify locations where assets can be consolidated.

In other words, the study is a comprehensive analysis of PRes infrastructure that will allow decision-making on modernization, portfolio rationalization and inform future funding. Modern infrastructure is an absolute necessity for all PRes units. This infrastructure includes the bases and installations where the PRes units train and the support networks required to maintain and operate equipment. In addition, infrastructure locations must be strategically viable.


The study has three parts. The first defined problems and assessed the current state of PRes assets, with an emphasis on financial sustainability.

The second part, an operational requirements definition, aims to analyze the current and future needs of the CAF in relation to PRes infrastructure assets and requirements.

The third step is programming and implementation, which involves the creation of a PRes Infrastructure Asset Management Plan to meet the CAF’s operational requirements.

The schedules for these parts vary. The first part, problem definition, started in January 2017 and was completed in September 2017. The second part started in January 2018 and is ongoing. The third part will follow.

Problem definition stage complete

The Canadian Army is modernizing and evolving. The study will ensure new PRes infrastructure requirements are satisfied and ensure requirements for real property are met, while also providing advice on whether obsolete infrastructure should be transferred or sold.

The problem definition phase in 2017 found many of the property assets being reviewed are outdated, underused or generally do not meet the needs of regiments. Nearly half are 50 or more years old. Additionally, 30 per cent are 100 or more years old and 16 per cent are in “poor” or “critical” condition.

More than 60 of the buildings being studied are recognized as Federal Heritage Buildings, which means that any plans to demolish or renovate them would have to be evaluated by Parks Canada’s Federal Heritage Buildings Review Office.

It was also determined that not all the buildings in question are readily accessible by public transit or advantageously located in areas where interest in recruiting is known to be high.

Operational requirements stage to seek personnel input

The second phase, defining operational requirements, got underway in January of 2018 and is ongoing until 2020.

During this phase, DND personnel will be visiting many armouries to obtain feedback from local personnel on their needs and issues.

It is recognized that many properties are an integral part of the communities in which they are located, and an open dialogue will be maintained to ensure stakeholder interests are considered and respected.

Final stage: Programming and implementation

The third and final phase will begin once the operational requirements phase is completed. No decisions will be made beforehand.

The final stage will look at aligning the strategic and operational needs of the CAF with an optimized asset portfolio that delivers infrastructure that can be sustainably maintained. The outcome will be the development of a PRes Infrastructure Asset Management Plan that is aligned with leading practices of portfolio management.

Downsizing is not the objective of the study – it is more a matter of providing modern, suitable assets that are financially sustainable.

General recommendations resulting from the study are expected by 2020. DND will share updates throughout the process.

Potential outcomes of the study

Many of the buildings that were flagged in this study were determined to be unsuitable, underutilized, unaffordable or outdated, which is contrary to the mission and current needs of the CAF.

The objective of the PRes study is to ensure that the PRes assets adequately meet the operational requirements. Assets will be assessed and potentially optimized to meet the following objectives:

  • Strategically located to enable the PRes to remain key and provide the ability for the CAF to meet the security and defence needs of the future;
  • Modern, attractive and in proximity to catchment areas to enable recruitment and retention;
  • Flexible to accommodate new functions, capabilities, missions and tasks of a strengthened PRes;
  • Located to serve as a muster location and a hub for supplies and communications in case of local emergencies and in support of domestic operations;
  • Multifunctional, multi-use design to accommodate different military elements;
  • Safe, sustainable, effective and efficient; and
  • Promotes community presence for the CAF.

To achieve these objectives, ADM (IE) will look at ways to make the assets more sustainable from a total cost-of-ownership perspective, while ensuring that the assets are suitable to meet the objectives of the PRes. Investments will be made to modernize existing PRes assets that are suitable and sustainable.

ADM (IE) will seek opportunities to increase the sustainability of the existing infrastructure by maximizing the utilization and lowering the cost of operating the facilities through energy performance initiatives. Maximization of utilization can be achieved through a shared-space approach with multiple PRes units or compatible users from other organizations.

ADM (IE) will build and retrofit PRes assets to be flexible; this will meet the need to deliver the current initiatives and capabilities identified in Strong, Secure, Engaged: Canada’s Defence Policy, as well as future requirements.

ADM (IE) will also maintain assets within an optimal condition, while ensuring they are safe and secure.

These decisions will reflect what is best for the missions of the CAF and the PRes, in terms of cost-effectiveness and what is most practical.

Example renovation project in Halifax, Nova Scotia

A major renovation project is underway at Halifax’s North Park Armoury. The 120-year old building is being revamped with new workspaces and facilities to accommodate modern military vehicles, all while preserving its heritage character.

Projects like this will serve the PRes well into the future, while preserving its history, heritage and place in communities across Canada.

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