Vanguard Magazine

Feb/Mar 2013

Preserving capacity, General Tom Lawson, Chief of the Defence Staff, Keys to Canadian SAR

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Arctic A would the port have? What jobs and economic benefits would the project bring? What would be the lasting legacy of Nanisivik? Enshrined in our Constitution is an obligation to consult with northern land owners on projects affecting them and their land. When questioned about this, the Prime Minister said, "obviously military decisions have to be made on a military basis, but in terms of decisions we announced on Resolute and on Nanisivik, they're obviously going to benefit local people, they'll be involved in construction, hopefully employment as well." Perhaps in reaction to the criticism, an environmental assessment process was initiated. But it too lacked some clarity, appearing to many as a murky process with uncertain jurisdictional responsibilities and accountabilities, and a very long, multiyear, and highly speculative schedule to any kind of decision. Meanwhile, in Ottawa, rather than creating the Nanisivik project as a stand-alone program within DND, it was folded into the project charged with designing and building Canada's new fleet of Arctic Offshore Patrol Ships. And that much more public project was, of course, made part of Canada's National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy, a major and complex program with a lengthy timetable as the government went through a process of selecting designated shipyards. However, the Nanisivik project team kept busy while an environmental review and the NSPS selection process ground along. They worked hard at specifying and designing port and associated shore facilities to the southern Canadian standards they knew best. But building in the North is expensive. Everything that is required must be shipped in during the annual sealift. Fur- thermore, construction seasons are very short and local, skilled construction labour is in short supply. Not surprisingly, the first casualty was the estimated project budget. Thanks to the decision to merge the port construction with AOPS, the funds available to build the ships themselves were directly affected. To its credit, the project management team solved this problem after a fact finding trip to Nanisivik. They quite wisely observed that the locals had found their own innovative and unique ways of FEBRUARY/MARCH 2013 37

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