Breaking New Ground—Stories from Defence Construction Breaking_new_ground - Page 62

Priorities change One of the key influences on DCL’s work in the 1970s actually happened in 1969, when the government, headed by Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, announced its new defence priorities. Sovereignty protection was made the highest priority and peacekeeping was the lowest. As a result, Canada’s NATO commitment was cut in half, from 10,000 to 5,000 troops, and plans were made to reduce the Canadian Forces themselves from 110,000 personnel to as few as 80,000. This affected equipment choices, particularly in the naval and air force branches, and, in a domino effect, many of the activities needed to support DND— including maintenance and construction. The 1970 White Paper titled Defence in the Seventies laid out many of the resulting changes—and then the oil crisis of the early 1970s hit, followed by an inflationary economic period. Oil prices increased, causing construction and labour costs to rise and affecting the design of buildings for years to come. It was a lot to deal with. DCL on loan DCL’s assistance to foreign aid projects was formalized in 1970 through an agreement with the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), which had been created in 1968. At the time, CIDA was involved 52 with a construction program that included university buildings, schools and prefabricated school buildings as part of Canada’s contribution to the Commonwealth Caribbean Assistance Plan. DCL provided technical and administrative assistance to CIDA for projects under this Plan that were worth $6.5 million. Specialist personnel from DCL were also on loan to other organizations at this time, including the Department of Public Works, the Department of Regional Economic Expansion, the Post Office, the Ministry of Transport and Telesat Canada, on projects that included what would become Mirabel and Pearson International Airports. As the 1970s progressed, construction volumes again began to increase and DCL’s need to loan out its personnel diminished. Regrouping, reorganizing In the early 1970s, DND reorganized the Construction Engineering (CE) branch and also created the National Defence Headquarters in Ottawa (joining the CF Headquarters and civilian staffs). Under this structure, military engineer functions at NDHQ were organized similarly to before unification: each of the three functional commands (land, sea and air) had a senior military engineer. These changes meant that some of the joint procedures and policies needed to be changed as well. BREAKING NEW GROUND DEFENCE CONSTRUCTION CANADA