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CFB dock work to create 1,400 jobs, cost $430 million to $530 million

The budget for two new jetties at CFB Esquimalt is expected to be in the range of $430 million to $530 million, said Canada’s Minister of National Defence.
Minister of National Defence, Peter MacKay addresses the guests and media at Canadian Forces Base Esquimalt .

The budget for two new jetties at CFB Esquimalt is expected to be in the range of $430 million to $530 million, said Canada’s Minister of National Defence.

Construction to replace A and B jetties is expected to create up to 1,400 jobs over the life of the work, Peter MacKay said Monday during a visit to Victoria.

The development will benefit not only the Armed Forces, MacKay said. “It will also ... be very good news for the workers and businesses in this community. Although the project is still in the design phase, we expect Esquimalt and the surrounding region will see significant economic benefits from this project when it is fully underway.”

Installing new steel and concrete pile jetties continues infrastructure modernization work at the base. A $19.7-million utility corridor is being built by Victoria’s Scansa Construction and will “support the mechanical, electrical, communications services as part of our dockyards here,” MacKay said.

Further, underwater artificial reefs were installed in the western side of Esquimalt Harbour for about $1.2 million, in consultation with Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

The old jetties made of treated wood have been used since the 1940s. They are too short and too narrow, and have reached the end of their life cycle.

“I think 70 years is probably long enough. It’s time for a major upgrade,” MacKay said.

New, larger jetties will provide more docking space for new navy ships and will provide additional wharf space to carry out day-to-day maintenance work, MacKay said. They will be able to provide berth space for four frigates, two Arctic/offshore patrol vessels, one auxiliary oiler replenishment ship and two submarines.

The federal government has vowed to spend $33 billion for new combat and non-combat ships under its national shipbuilding procurement strategy. Seaspan Marine, owner of Victoria and Vancouver shipyards, won the right to negotiate to build $8 billion in non-combat vessels, with Irving Shipbuilding of Halifax slated to construct military ships. The first shipbuilding construction contract with Seaspan has yet to be signed.

The estimated cost range of $430 million to $530 million for the jetties will be refined after the design work is finished. The total amount includes studies, design, construction, administration and contingencies.

About 67 per cent of the total expenditure will go toward construction, said Gordon Wong, jetty project manager with National Defence headquarters.

Two firms, Amec Americas Ltd. and Stantec, are currently designing the jetties. Geo-technical features of the harbour are quite complex. Design work is expected to be finished in 2014, Wong said.

It’s too soon to say when further contracts will go out to public tender. Future time lines are expected to be better known in another couple of months, Wong said.

B jetty will be built first, followed by A jetty, he said. Each project will take 18-24 months.

Cmdr. Hugh Fitzpatrick, CFB Esquimalt harbourmaster, said the jetties will be completed in time for the arrival of the new ships.

Today’s biggest challenge is that the jetties are not large enough. “We have bigger ships than we did when the jetties were built. And what we are having to do is juggle them around, move them with tugs,” Fitzpatrick said.

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