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CP head-office move part of company overhaul

Canadian Pacific CEO Hunter Harrison

Christinne Muschi/The Globe and Mail

Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. will be moving some of its head office from downtown Calgary to property it owns in the city's Ogden rail yards, as the company continues widespread cost cutting throughout its operations.

CP management has told union representatives that much of its headquarters' staff, such as network managers, will be moved to office space the company has in suburban Ogden. An historic site in railroad lore, the use of Ogden yards has decreased in recent years.

"That's my understanding, that the majority of their offices will be moving to a building that they currently own out in the Ogden yard," said Ross Terry, vice president of the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference Maintenance of Way Employees Division.

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"They are doing renovation on it," Mr. Terry said. "It was formerly a car-shop building, where they repaired railway cars," he said. He noted that CP executives didn't provide a clear breakdown of how much occupying the Ogden property will save compared to the cost of the office lease downtown.

CP is in the middle of an across-the-board restructuring to improve its operations and cut costs. This is being done under new chief executive officer and veteran railroad executive Hunter Harrison, who was brought in last summer as a result of a hard-fought proxy battle by shareholders.

Although the company has kept much of its restructuring plans under wraps, CP has released tidbits such as management changes among its senior executives in charge of the overall operations of the railroad. Mr. Harrison has also noted that cuts will be made in the company's back-office staff.

CP plans to release full details of its operations and corporate overhaul on Dec. 4 and 5 in New York. Mr. Harrison is scheduled to meet with invited stakeholders and analysts on Dec. 4, with the formal presentation the following day.

Union representatives reached Friday weren't able to confirm a fixed timetable for the move to Ogden yards, only that they were informed that much of the company's head offices will be leaving the gleaming Gulf Canada Square building downtown.

"We're streamlining a lot of the headquarters' processes," Mr. Harrison said to analysts in a conference call last month. "My view was we were a little bit heavy at headquarters. Some might say more than a little. Effectively, about 28 per cent of our non-union employees were headquartered here [in Calgary], and we've gone to work in that area."

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Guy Dixon is a feature writer for The Globe and Mail. More

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