Project backgrounder

Need for a new facility

CSE’s mandate is to protect the safety of Canadians and Canadian information. To meet Government of Canada security priorities and to adapt to an evolving and complex cyber threat environment, CSE has increased its capabilities over the last ten years. The campus at Confederation Heights was designed to support a workforce half our current size. There was undisputed need for a new CSE facility given there is no further possibility of expansion of the current infrastructure.

Why the Public-Private Partnership (P3) approach?

Following careful analysis between the P3 Design-Build-Finance-Maintain approach and the traditional Crown construct approach, it was determined that the P3 approach would be the most viable solution for the CSE project. This approach creates a partnership which allows the public sector to leverage private-sector innovation and efficiency to deliver major public infrastructure projects.

After a rigourous competive process (see the Procurement Process section below), Plenary Properties was awarded the contract and is responsible for the design and construction, financing and maintenance of the facility over 30 years. This provides many advantages, such as greater certainty of on-time delivery of this critical building, access to private-sector capital, and the transfer of certain risks to Plenary, such as financial and schedule overrun. Transferring those risks helped ensure a project that remained on budget and on schedule. The Design-Build phase of the project is now complete.

Achieving Value for Money

The P3 approach provides significant value for money. P3 Canada estimates the savings to be in the range of $176 million over the 30-year life of the contract.

Additional economic benefits include:

  • 5000 new jobs for skilled trade workers $1.7B over 30 years in revenue to primarily local service providers
  • Approximately $8M per year in payment-in-lieu-of-taxes to the City of Ottawa

With the P3 approach, the private-sector partner did not receive any funding from the Government of Canada for this facility until it was delivered as specified. Annual service payments are based on performance, facility availability and service quality, and can be reduced if the private-sector partner does not meet the high-quality standards stipulated in the project agreement.

Procurement Process

To ensure that CSE obtained a facility suited to its requirements, CSE hired a team of consultants specializing in all areas of the Design-Build-Finance-Maintain approach, including architects and engineers, IT specialists, and lawyers with expertise in P3 contracting and finance. This team was involved throughout the entire procurement process, from determining requirements to evaluation of proposal and continuing through the design and construction period.

In September 2009, Defence Construction Canada (DCC), a crown corporation under the Minister of Public Works and Government Services, issued a Request for Qualifications which resulted in the selection of three consortia who were then invited to participate in the Request for Proposals (RFP) issued in January 2010.

The completed proposals were received by CSE in September 2010 and subject to an extensive evaluation process. The evaluation was managed by DCC, the contracting authority for the project, and was organized and structured to ensure a fair and competitive selection process. The evaluation team was comprised of representatives from CSE, DCC and the Department of National Defence, and was supported by an extensive team of subject-matter specialists.

A third party Fairness Monitor was appointed to the project and oversaw the entire RFP and evaluation process to ensure that the RFP and Evaluation process were objective. For more information, consult the report of the Fairness Monitor.

Following the evaluation process, Plenary Properties was selected as the preferred proponent in October 2010, and subsequent to successful contract negotiations, the contract was awarded to Plenary Properties on January 31, 2011.

The two unsuccessful proponents each received an honorarium. Honoraria are a private industry standard associated with bid development costs and the transfer of intellectual property to the public sector. The $2M paid out in total for honoraria ensured that the government was able to attract and leverage private-sector innovation and efficiency in this government-industry initiative.

A purpose-built facility

CSE retained architectural experts to provide advice on maximizing CSE employee output through the building design while providing a healthy work environment for users. This was part of a deliberate commitment to productivity improvements in a time of fiscal restraint.

A number of requirements were also outlined in the RFP to facilitate the work of employees or the operation of the building, and ensure that the new building is a modern, highly innovative and functional purpose-built facility. The building is composed of both special purpose space and office space:

  • 72,000 square meters of rentable space
  • Top Secret data centre, conference centre and classrooms
  • Power systems to support 24/7 operations
  • Highly collaborative and flexible work environment
  • Proximity to public transit and bicycle parking facility
  • Food services and fitness facility

Being 'Green'

In line with the federal government's commitment to sustainability, the Edward Drake building is designed to meet the requirements for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification upon completion. Implementation of sustainable practices and design will result in an estimated 45% energy cost savings.

Some notable 'green' features include:

  • Designed and built to meet LEED Gold certification
  • Sustainable design and practices will result in estimated 45% energy cost savings
  • Photovoltaic array allows some parts of the facility to run at net-zero energy consumption
  • Low-flow water fixtures, supplemented by rainwater re-use systems, will reduce the use of potable water by an estimated 40%
  • Reflective roof will reduce ‘heat island’ effect
  • Natural landscaping and the maintenance of existing walking trails on site
  • Large quantities of recycled material were used during construction. For instance, when the former Cyrville Road overpass was demolished, the concrete debris was used as landfill in the construction of CSE's new building.


The construction of the building was a four-year project. The major construction phases include the completion of:

  • the parking garage in late 2011;
  • the north-west wing of the main building by May 2012;
  • the south wing by November 2012;
  • the main building exterior envelope by August 2013; and
  • final landscaping by November 2014.

The construction of the facility resulted in the creation of approximately 5000 jobs in the Ottawa area. The consortium, led by Plenary Properties and PCL Constructors Canada Inc., estimated that 99 per cent of the jobs created by this project were Canadian.


Security is the core of CSE's business and has been a consideration from the outset of the project. As such, stringent security measures are in place to protect the integrity of the facility as well as the information it protects.

CSE and the Government of Canada exercised due diligence in preparing the terms of the agreement with Plenary Properties to ensure security is not compromised. CSE worked closely with Public Works and Government Services Canada's Industrial Security Manual to ensure that all the requirements of the Industrial Security Manual are met by both CSE and the companies involved. In addition, private contractors were required to comply with CSE security policies and standards during all the phases of the project, from design to construction to operation.

All contractors involved in the construction were subject to the appropriate security screening process to ensure national security was not at risk. Furthermore, a CSE security expert was assigned to oversee the implementation of security-related requirements for the entire project, from design and construction to maintenance and operation.

Benefits of the project to the Community

The Edward Drake building will offer a number of benefits to the local community, including:

  • establishing beautified public-access walking paths for local residents;
  • extension of the existing sidewalk along Bathgate Dr.;
  • allocation of space to be used by the private-sector partner for a bank and daycare;
  • modifications to roadways to mitigate influx of traffic to the site; and
  • economic benefits to local businesses.


The planning of the Edward Drake building is in keeping with the policy direction established by the Ottawa 20/20 Transportation Master Plan. CSE is encouraging alternative means of transportation including public transit, walking and biking (bicycle racks for 250 bicycles). However, the CSE site has a parking structure to accommodate 800 parking spaces.

Plenary Properties worked closely with City of Ottawa urban planners to implement the proposed changes recommended by consultants in their 2010 study to mitigate the potential impacts of traffic influx to the area. The changes include:

  • modifying the existing 'T' intersection at Ogilvie Road/Silver City Centre to a four-way intersection to create the main access point to the CSE site; and
  • paving a private road for trucks on the CSE site to reduce traffic on Ogilvie Road. This road is accessed from Blair Road.