DND move to Nortel campus - starting January 9, 2017

The first major move of Defence department employees to the former Nortel campus in west end Ottawa will be delayed until early next year so as not to cause workers too much stress over the holidays as well as to allow them to sort out their transportation arrangements to the site. 

The delay will also ensure that amenities such as a gym and doughnut shop will be ready for workers when they arrive, according to a message sent Tuesday to all employees by Vice Admiral Mark Norman, vice chief of the defence staff.

The message was obtained by the Sun.

The first major wave of Canadian Forces and Department of National Defence staff was supposed to move into the former Nortel campus starting in the fall.

But in his message Norman says that move would not start until Jan. 9.

Norman said that since the move to the Carling Avenue location is a large undertaking, it is causing changes to the work and personal schedules of employees.

Because the DND and Canadian Forces want to minimize such disruptions, the decision was made to delay the move.

“Even though the first building is just about ready for occupancy, I have directed that the move of Military Personnel Command not start before 9 January 2017,” Norman wrote to employees. “This means that when we do move in, there will be more services and amenities available, things like the gym, Canex and Tim Hortons,” he stated. “It means we won’t be adding to the stresses that the holiday season may bring to some. It also allows members of the Defence Team to visit the site as part of a programmed transition, while trying out your new commute before their official move.”

Some Department of National Defence employees and Canadian Forces personnel have voiced concern over the move, pointing out that many live in OrlĂ©ans and that the commute to the west end of Ottawa would be too long. A June 2011 briefing note for then-DND deputy minister Robert Fonberg described the Carling Avenue site as a “relatively remote location.”

Norman acknowledged in an interview with the Sun several months ago that some employees face a long commute to get to the new defence headquarters.

In total, about 8,500 federal workers and military personnel will be eventually working from the campus.

The first phase was to have seen the move, between the fall and summer 2017, of 3,400 staff from the offices of the military and civilian human resources branches, science and technology, information management as well as Canadian Forces Support Unit Ottawa.

It is unclear how the delay will affect the move phases that are to follow.

Under the original schedule, starting in the summer of 2017, another 3,900 would arrive at the campus. They would include staff from the Department of National Defence’s policy and finance branches, public affairs, auditors and those involved in infrastructure. Also included in that move would be staff from the Canadian Army and Royal Canadian Navy and some air force personnel. That phase is expected to be finished in 2018. The final phase will be conducted in 2019 and would include 1,190 personnel from the information management section and the Royal Canadian Air Force.

Norman said he is confident that when employees see what positive changes are in store for them at the new headquarters location, they will enjoy their work experience. “This adjustment will take time and will affect everyone differently,” he added in his message.

The campus consists of about 28 hectares once owned by Nortel and 120 hectares leased from the National Capital Commission.

The DND and military, however, will still continue operating DND’s main downtown location, the Major-General George R. Pearkes Building on Colonel By Drive, as well as its facility on Star Top Road. In addition, DND and military staff will still continue to work from the Louis St. Laurent complex, the National Printing Bureau building and the Hotel de Ville building in Gatineau.

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