Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A really good idea

The Canadian Forces Pacific base is in Esquimalt and the capital region. It owns about 41 square kilometres, worth some $3 billion.
"Why not move the Pacific Fleet Base to Prince Rupert," asks Bernard von Schulmann.
The federal government could sell most of the land around Victoria, reducing the deficit and easing housing prices. Prince Rupert needs the jobs.
So why not?


Anonymous said...

Why not? Uhm...because not everybody wants to live in Prince Rupert? If we want to attract people to the armed forces surely quality of life plays some role.

Anonymous said...

A move like that would not reduce the deficit but more likely increase it. It would probably cost $6 billion to move if not more and besides Prince Rupert needs an oil spill response team not a navy.

Anonymous said...

100 Years of Garbage*

It will cost more than $3 Billion to clean up all the toxic waste on the CFB Esquimalt site - remember that the forces are (mostly) exempt from environmental laws and over site.

* = "First established as a military installation by the Royal Navy in 1855, CFB Esquimalt has been serving the Canadian Navy from its inception in 1910 to this, its centennial year."

Kim said...

The waters off Prince Rupert are very tricky to navigate, and ecologicly very sensitive. The highway between Rupert and Terrace may not stand the kind of traffic that would ensue.

Having said that, there used to be a small naval station in Masset, at the north end of Graham Island. My husband was posted there for a couple of years and it was the nicest place we were ever posted.

I don't know why they closed that base, I think the local economy suffered a huge blow when they pulled out.

A naval presence in our northwest coastal waters, with a more specialized fleet, would seem like an excellent idea, given that they could also train for environmental disaaster response (see booming school 101).

The local economies would benefit from a more stable workforce in general too.

Anonymous said...

It is hard enough to get people to join the military, I know people in the air force, they would turn in their mother to the police to not go to Cold Lake. Honestly this would only increase the use of alcohol, etc. And punish military families.


DPL said...

So what would have to happen to the PMQ's at Esquimalt? A lot of families live in military housing. The base works with the US navy quite a lot.And of course the Air Force squadron at Comox( 407).Canada is responsible for a large chunk of ocean starting at the 49th parallel. Methinks Bernard is not that aware of the reasons the base is at its' present location. The army had a large presence on the other side of the base but some politician shifted them to Chilliwack, and then out of the province .Does he suggest the graving dock,(in place since the late 1800's and once the largest in the Commonwealth) head north as well. If the navy has a job up the coast they simply load up the ship leave the harbor and turn starboard and soon would end up in Prince Rupert.If we need ships in the north, (Tuc is about as far north as one can get on this side of the land mass), would be a more suitable place and that sure as heck isn't near Prince Rupert. Not much of a road up past Inuvic. and of course we don't yet have the big ice breakers promised since many governments ago. Canada has a large land mass, faily small population and such a move , as others have mentioned, would cost more than any benefit. Bases arnt just set up to please the local businesses.

Bernard von Schulmann said...

I find the comments opposing the idea interesting:

1) People would not want to live in Prince Rupert - I am not convinced this would be as big a problem as the posters assume. Prince Rupert is a rather decent place to live and has a lot to offer. The reason the population is low at the moment is that there are not a lot of jobs to be had.

2) The existing base lands are so polluted as to be wildly expensive to clean up. That liability is there whether or not the base moves anywhere. If it is as environmentally damaged as suggested it will have to be dealt with. Moving the base would the most cost effective way to deal with the problems.

3) If the waters are that tricky to navigate there would be no container port. Naval ships are much more nimble than cargo ships. The highway could easily handle the traffic and the base would have good access to rail.

I remain convinced this should be an idea worth considering. Developing Prince Rupert as a major harbour is in our provincial and national interests. Having the navy located in the North west does a lot more to address our national defense needs.

Bernard von Schulmann said...

The graving dock would remain here, but this then gives a reason to build something similar in Prince Rupert. There is a demand from the private sector in the PR region for the ship repair facilities. We would gain income from cargo vessels and Alaskan ones as well.

There is a severe lack of NORAD naval presence north of the 49th parallel on the Pacific Coast. In fact there is nothing of any substance.

The arguments against still do not seem to give any substance reasons why it is not a good idea, they sound more like defense of the status quo because it is the status quo.

DPL said...

Yes there isn't that great a navy present on the coast . However moving it to Prince Rupert would not increase the numbers of ships It would mean the ships patrolling on the lower coast would have to steam down south to cover their territory. Drydocks cost a mint, housing costs a lot to build and for what? So a presently short of work town might get some workers. The joint exercises are mostly from Victoria area down to San Diego and periodically off to Hawaii. So if we followed the guys idea about shifting the west coast navy, what would it cost for the lower Island in lost incomes? Travel time to work the off island training restricted areas would be huge. If the feds want to spend a few more billions, get some ice breakers able to do the Passage summer or winter. But who am I to argue with a local dreamer. Hell I put in well over 22 years in the military, a lot of the time doing patrols, looking for submarines and other related problems.Quite a bit of it on the coast. I'm not navy never have been. I have no vested interest in the stationing of ships, but even with them down in Victoria ship, aircraft training time is hard to get. The odds of such a move is a non starter. If Prince George needs more jobs, go talk to the provincial government who is supposed to be finding jobs for the locals. Must be a slow news week

Anonymous said...

Just last June Victoria's Times-Colonist published an article by Katie Derosa about the base which included the following quote:

"Those signs point to the base's crucial role as a multimillion-dollar economic generator in Greater Victoria. Between lucrative ship repair contracts, massive construction projects and the thousands of jobs it provides, CFB Esquimalt pumps more than half a billion dollars a year into the region's economy, according to base communications. That includes $234 million in annual military pay, $110 million in civilian pay, $71 million for supplies and services, about $80 million in construction contracts to local companies.

"The base ... is a large component of the economic well-being of this region," says base commander Capt. Marcel Hallé."

I think von Schulman's analysis has overlooked at least this one salient fact.

Raymond Graham