ARCHIVED - Gagetown Infrastructure Announcement

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Minister's Speech / September 9, 2010

CFB Gagetown, NB

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Men and women of the Canadian Forces,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It’s a pleasure to be in Gagetown today. 

I’m also pleased that my friend and colleague, Minister Keith Ashfield — who is also the MP for Fredericton — is with us here today.

Keith has worked very hard to deliver results for Fredericton, and for the men and women here at CFB Gagetown.

I’m thrilled to be here to share some good news with the men and women who do so much for our country.

Your Prime Minister, your government and I are incredibly proud of the Canadian Forces and we want to ensure that they have the equipment, infrastructure, training and tools they need to do the jobs asked of them.

Our Government has provided our men and women in uniform planes –including the C-17 strategic airlift plane and the new C130J-, trucks, tanks, helicopters, and UAVs.

These are all tools that enable the Canadian Forces to do what we ask them to do — safely and effectively.

You may have heard that past July, I announced that our government is going to deliver the fighter aircraft that will protect Canadian airspace better than anything else we could have chosen – the F35 Lighting II

The F35 is the plane that Canada needs to meet the security challenges of the 21st Century.

In short, this plane is the best — and that’s why we’re delivering it to our men and women in uniform.

You know — delivering the best to our troops also means ensuring that the places they live, train and work are the best standard we can provide.

And that means improving the bases like the one we’re standing in today.

 Today, I am pleased to announce investments in defence infrastructure and equipment here at Canadian Forces Base Gagetown totalling approximately $60 million.

These are major investments in one of the most important bases in the country…

…major investments in the continued success of Canadian Forces operations.

2010 has been an exceptional year for the Canadian Forces. 

Whether it be on the West Coast during the Vancouver Olympic and Paralympic Games…

…in Huntsville and Toronto for the G-8 and the G-20 meetings…

…far off our coasts in Haiti…

…or on the other side of the world in Afghanistan.

The Canadian Forces have been busier than they have been in decades.

They have successfully ensured the safety of Canadians at home.

They have been ambassadors and leaders abroad.

The men and women of the Canadian Forces are among the best in the world and they deserve the full support of Canadians and their Government. 

That support begins at the bases, wings and military installations that dot our country:

some 21,000 buildings;

over 2 million hectares of land — four times the size of Prince Edward Island; and,

thousands of kilometres of roads, sewers, power lines, and other utilities.

It’s infrastructure that is indispensible to the defence of Canada and the operational excellence of the Canadian Forces.

More than fifty years after the first large-scale exercise was carried out here in 1954, Gagetown has become one of the largest military bases in Canada.

With all its Army schools – for our infantry, armoured and artillery soldiers, as well as for engineers – the Combat Training Centre plays a crucial role in training current and future generations of Canadian soldiers.

CFB Gagetown truly is the home of the Army.

And you’ve been at the forefront of our Army’s recent operations.

Men and women from Gagetown were there to assist with the security efforts as Canada welcomed world leaders for the G-8 and G-20.

Your help was crucial to relieve the suffering in Haiti after the terrible earthquake there this January.

And, of course, soldiers from CFB Gagetown have been a steadfast presence in Afghanistan, demonstrating that Canada has one of the best armies in the world.

The sacrifices have been enormous for soldiers, their families and the community.

But I want you to know that Canadians are extremely proud of the courage and professionalism of our soldiers and they understand the critical role played by our army.

I also want you to know how proud your government is of you.

I know that the army suffered in the late 1990’s. 

It was a dark period your former Chief of the Defence Staff has labelled the ‘decade of darkness’.

There were budget decreases, personnel shortages and large scale attrition.

I’m telling you that, under this Conservative Government, those days are over and will remain nothing but a bad memory.

The infrastructure I’m here to announce will help this base do its work well into the future.

I’m happy to say that we are planning to refurbish the health facilities for the men and women of Base Gagetown at a total value of a little over $20 million.

Current health facilities are distributed throughout the base and do not offer adequate space.

That’s why we’re renovating some of the existing facilities housing health services and constructing a new addition to existing facilities…

…integrating all health services – medical, dental, physiotherapy and mental health – into one modern, centralized location.

The new and refurbished health services centre is expected occupied by 2015.

We’re also continuing with the major upgrade of utilities here at Gagetown.

The underground infrastructure is aging and many of its components have required replacement.

For example, the tunnels housing the high-temperature-hot-water and electrical distribution systems needed revamping.

The project to upgrade these utilities has five phases, and the first two phases are already complete.

The third phase of the project is expected to be completed this fall for a total cost of approximately $25 million. 

The final two phases will bring this project to full completion by 2015.

And while I’m here, I’d like to talk about some important pieces of kit.

As the Army frequently deploys under austere conditions, in a variety of climates, the basics – like heat and hot water – are critical.

I’m pleased to announce that the Government has just awarded a $15.4 million contract to DEW Engineering and Development ULC – of Ottawa and Miramichi, right here in New Brunswick – for up to 2,630 new space and water heaters for our land forces to use in the field.

These heaters are essential to the functioning of temporary camps, both on operations and during training, like here in Gagetown.

New heaters will mean more efficiency, reliability and increased safety for our soldiers.

We are expecting the first 200 units in the spring next year and the balance within the next two years.

Ladies and gentlemen, the Government recognizes the crucial role the Canadian Forces fulfill.

And we’re achieving tangible results already in our efforts to deliver on the Strategy.

Both the regular forces and the Reserves are expanding.

We’ve acquired essential new equipment like the C-17 strategic lift aircraft and we’re well on our way to procure or replace other core fleets, like ships and fighters.

We’re also acquiring new land combat vehicles and upgrading our fleet of LAV-IIIs.

And we’re investing billions of dollars to modernize military installations across our country.

Ladies and Gentlemen, proper facilities here — and elsewhere in Canada — are essential to a modern military.

But the investments I’m announcing today also have numerous spin-off benefits for the communities our Canadian Forces members call home.

That’s because Base Gagetown is part of a larger community and plays an important role in this area: it is the largest Public Sector employer in the province, employing 3,500 military and 1,500 civilians.

It also contributes significantly to surrounding communities, bringing almost $200 million to the local economy annually.

And, I’m happy to report, as a result of today’s infrastructure announcements, over 250 jobs could be created.

This is a good news story for everyone involved. 

For the people of this community who will benefit from jobs and positive economic activity… 

…and for the Canadian Forces who will continue to deliver excellence at home and project leadership abroad.

As Minister of National Defence, I’m proud of what this Government has accomplished in modernizing the Canadian Forces.

And proud of how our investments in defence are also helping local economies and Canadian workers.

Thank you.

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