Military station security forces Ottawa road closure

A Canadian Forces station in south Ottawa wants more security so it has been working to move Leitrim Road further away from its gates, which now means a nine-day road closure.
Construction crews have been working on Leitrim Road, named one of Ontario's worst roads a few years ago, and the weeklong road closure beginning Friday is one of the final steps in the road realignment. (Stu Mills/CBC)

A south Ottawa road will be closed for nine days to boost the security of a Canadian Forces station that houses some of the country's spies.

Leitrim Road is set to be closed between Hawthorne Road and Bank Street from Friday at 7 p.m. ET to Sunday, July 28 at 7 p.m. ET.

Taxpayers across Canada, not just in Ottawa, will foot the bill for the road re-alignment to create more room between the 72-year-old Canadian Forces Station Leitrim at 3545 Leitrim Rd., and passing vehicles.

Lt.-Col. Darren Harper, the station's commanding officer, said the area has become busier since security operations began about 50 years ago.

This map shows the old Leitrim Road's path (green) and new road's path (red), which is further away from the Canadian Forces station (purple). (Photo courtesy of the National Capital Commission)

The station has been close to Leitrim Rd. and it even crosses the street, according to Harper, so the realignment was necessary. The roadwork has cost Defence Construction Canada about $7 million, as it has been an ongoing plan for several years.

The military had to buy 3.7 hectares of land from the City of Ottawa, through the federal department of public works, to create a wider bow around the station with a longer road and a sharper curve.

The federal government also paid for new streetlights above the road and waterworks below the ground.

'Signals intelligence' work at Leitrim station

Inside the Leitrim station, soldiers intercept foreign and domestic radio signals before decoding them. But Harper would not say soldiers complete "spy" work inside the high gates.

"We are here specifically to support the Canadian Armed Forces. Our mission, specifically, is from a signals intelligence perspective and to support operations abroad and domestic," said Harper.

"Search-and-rescue is one of the areas we support."

The old section of Leitrim Road will likely be used as a road into the station, Harper added.

But he said, besides the nine-day closure, the military is trying not to affect traffic for nearby residents or those passing through.

"We'll work with anybody. We're not looking at affecting their traffic flow or their access. It's a matter of what we have to do to maintain the security of the location," he said.