No Tim's for troops

The Department of National Defence is abandoning plans for three mobile, deployable Tim Hortons outlets, denying Canadian troops that familiar taste of home on future overseas missions.

As Canada's combat mission in Afghanistan was winding down in 2011, military officials proposed making it standard practice to have trailer-sized units on hand to sling coffee and donuts to soldiers.

A Tim's outlet at Kandahar Airfield, which operated for five years, generated $7.1 million in gross profit, much of which was plowed back into military support and services programs after expenses were paid.

The proposal to have trailers ready to go for other extended deployments was energetically endorsed by the country's overseas commander, according to documents obtained by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act.

"The potential availability of a Tim Hortons outlet for future missions will give ... additional flexibility to enhance the physical and emotional well-being of deployed personnel with a little taste from home," said a memo dated Dec. 14, 2011, which asked Lt.-Gen. Stuart Beare for his blessing.

Plans were so far advanced that the military's support services unit had planned to begin construction of the trailers sometime in January 2012, but they were cancelled before any work was started.

A defence spokeswoman, Lt. Michele Tremblay, said the coffee houses were "no longer required."

The proposal was initially drafted in the context of setting up a Tim's outlet to serve the 950 troops taking part in the Kabul training mission, she said.

The idea was abandoned when it was weighed against the $100,000 per trailer cost of construction, and the fact the units could be assembled within two months should future commanders decide they want one, Tremblay added.

The support services unit operates semi-independently from National Defence and is not funded by taxpayers.

Even still, National Defence has been faced with an ever-tightening budget noose with some estimates projecting a cut of up to $2.5 billion, from a projected $19-billion annual appropriation, by 2014.

A spokeswoman at Tim Hortons corporate office was asked to comment, but was not immediately available.


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