A military station built in St. John's during the Second World War will be getting a hefty upgrade, Defence Minister Gordon O'Connor said Wednesday.

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Defence Minister Gordon O'Connor hinted broadly Wednesday at expansion at Canadian Forces Station St. John's. ((CBC))

The federal government will spend about $101 million to replace infrastructure at Canadian Forces Station St. John's, O'Connor said during a visit to the city.

The 16 buildings are spread over 25 hectares, which sprawl across the Pleasantville neighbourhood near Quidi Vidi Lake, in the city's east end.

O'Connor said it makes sense to bring services together in a six-hectare area, with a single facility that will be complete by 2013. Construction is to start in 2008.

"Consolidating to a new location will be a positive change for all concerned and will honour the proud military history of the Pleasantville location," he said.

"For the Canadian Forces, this means a new, upgraded facility, and also the links between CFS St. John's and the community will remain strong."

Work was pushed for

O'Connor said the announcement— which comes amid souring relations between the Newfoundland and Labrador government and the federal Conservatives— is not related to an expected federal election.

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Many of the buildings at the Pleasantville station were built for temporary use, some in the early 1940s. ((CBC))

Indeed, defence officials— grappling with problems that include asbestos in drafty walls and leaky lead pipes— have been pushing for new quarters for more than a decade.

Officials say that the station's role will not change with the upgrade, although O'Connor hinted broadly that an expansion is likely.

"There will be an increase over time, here at this site," O'Connor told reporters.

The station was developed by the U.S. military during the Second World War. Canada assumed control of the buildings after the U.S. wound down Fort Pepperrell.

It isprimarily attached to Canadian ForcesMaritime Command, but also provides support for other units, including reservists. About 700 personnel work at the station.

Meanwhile, planners are working on converting Pleasantville buildings that had once belonged to the former U.S. military base, including the former Janeway Children's Hospital, to residential use.

St. John's Coun. Art Puddister said probable uses for the land include townhouses, condominiums and residential houses.