Federal Head Offices and Accommodations

The Capital is home to the headquarters of many of the federal government’s departments and agencies. These headquarters form part of the public face of government to Canadians from across the country.

The offices accommodating the federal public service have a significant presence in the Capital. Over the next 50 years, federal departments and agencies will integrate their offices into the city fabric and take advantage of transit-oriented locations. The federal government in the National Capital Region employs about 140,000 people, or 15 percent of the federal labour force. The federal presence and the need to accommodate federal employees have had an important impact on the distribution of employment in the Capital Region.

After the Second World War, to meet the government’s needs for federal accommodations, Gréber planned suburban employment campuses, such as Tunney’s Pasture and Confederation Heights, along parkways and green corridors at the edge of the urban area. The growth of the city has now encircled these facilities. As large, segregated-use, automobile-dependent areas built between the 1950s and 1970s, they are still not well connected to the surrounding urban fabric.

Over time, the federal government also built other large office buildings and complexes to consolidate federal employment. The majority of office facilities, like Place du Portage, are located in the core of the Capital.


Key policy directions for the next 50 years

  1. The federal government will strive to present a pleasing public face for client-centred services in the Capital. To respond to the changing needs of the urban region, PSPC and the NCC will continue to encourage the location of offices near transit stations and in support of active mobility. Both will develop strategies to promote environmental sustainability through “non-commuter” federal accommodations and to create adapted and inclusive workspaces.
  2. In collaboration with the municipalities, both organizations will ensure that federal sites become better integrated with their context and more closely linked to the urban fabric of the community. As demonstrated in the recent redevelopment plans for Tunney’s Pasture, some federal sites offer opportunities to adopt a mixed-use, compact development model that can improve sustainable transportation modes and the shared use of public spaces.
  3. The head offices of federal departments, Crown corporations and agencies will locate, wherever possible, in the Capital’s core area, or will cluster in inner-urban transit-oriented sites.
  4. Other federal accommodations may be located at other sites within the urban areas, provided that there is good access to rapid transit services.
  5. Some head offices could be located at the urban edge or within the Greenbelt, for security requirements, for example, intelligence, or military and defence installations, which require large, secure perimeters.
  6. Future generations of intensification projects for federal office campuses will provide for more integrated mixes of land uses.
  7. The NCC will work with PSPC and public safety agencies to ensure that the security measures implemented for federal accommodations are proportional to the level of security sensitivity. The NCC and its partners will promote the use of security measures at sites in the core area that are blended into the surrounding landscape, wherever feasible, so that the Capital remains both secure and open. In doing so, the NCC and its partners will seek out best practices for security installations from other world capitals to ensure that the best design approaches are adopted.
  8. Federal accommodations should be located and designed in a manner that contributes positively to the character of the Capital.