Mounties’ move to Barrhaven drags on

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More than six years after signing a $600-million deal to lease space inside the former JDS Uniphase complex in Barrhaven for its new headquarters, roughly 2,200 RCMP employees are still working at the national police force's old central facilities on the Vanier Parkway, officials say.

Approximately 850 of those federal workers will be on the move later this fall, joining 1,800 of their colleagues in the renamed M.J. Nadon Government of Canada Building, according to RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Laurence Trottier. She said the new headquarters building near the intersection of Merivale Road and Prince of Wales Drive is currently about two-thirds full.

Two years ago, RCMP Supt. Tim Cogan told The Globe and Mail that 3,300 employees would be working on the site by the end of 2011.

Now, Cpl. Trottier said there is no set timeline for vacating the Vanier Parkway campus. Meanwhile, Public Works – the federal government’s property custodian – said it still has no plans for redeveloping or disposing of the partially occupied 36.54-acre property, which sits in a prime location abutting the Queensway and in relative close proximity to rapid transit.

The Treasury Board’s federal property database lists all five buildings on the Vanier Parkway campus as being in “critical” condition, the lowest ranking. The deteriorating state of the current RCMP facilities was one of the reasons for finding a new home for the Mounties.

In 2006, the federal government signed a 25-year lease with Minto that allows the federal government to purchase the 911,000-square-foot building for $1 at the end of the agreement.

At the time, Ottawa Centre NDP MP Paul Dewar released documents showing the federal government was to spend $600 million for the RCMP’s relocation and rent.

However, in a 2006 interview, Minto Group CEO Roger Greenberg told OBJ the rent would be $5.43 a square foot, adding up to $124 million over 25 years. The rest included management fees, municipal taxes, utilities, moving expenses and the cost of renovating the existing RCMP headquarters.

—With a report from Patricia Lonergan

SIDEBAR: BUDGET CUTS

 

The RCMP has notified 150 employees that they could be laid off as the national police force tries to cut $195.2 million out of a budget of $2.5 billion.

Most spending reductions will likely occur in administrative services and operational support programs, said RCMP spokesperson Sgt. Julie Gagnon. Savings will in part be found by replacing officers with civilians in operational support and administrative capacities, and axing the force’s special health-care system in favour of provincial coverage.

The RCMP is also moving to consolidate its forensics labs across the country from five to three, Sgt. Gagnon said.

Federal budget documents released earlier this year indicated the funding reductions were to have a minimal impact on direct policing operations.

Last month, 150 RCMP staff received letters notifying them that their jobs have been affected as a result of these cuts. Of that number, 33 missives went to employees in Ontario. This is in addition to the 32 letters that went out force-wide in January.

How many of those employees are being laid off or relocated is unclear.

The affected employees work in recruiting, compensation, promotions, labs, records offices and the office for the co-ordination of grievances, according to a Q&A e-mailed to OBJ.

The RCMP has established a national vacancy management unit in Ottawa in an effort to ensure those whose positions have been changed or eliminated are offered another opportunity within the force. — By Patricia Lonergan