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24 Sussex sits empty, no target date for remodel

A view of the front of 24 Sussex Drive. The home is nearly 150 years old.
A view of the front of 24 Sussex Drive. The home is nearly 150 years old. Handout photo/National Capital Commission

The prime minister’s official residence has sat empty on Sussex Drive in Ottawa for over 18 months, but that doesn’t mean the historic home hasn’t been eating up taxpayer dollars.

Information released this week by the National Capital Commission, which is in charge of several official residences, reveals that the NCC has awarded nearly $113,000 in outside contracts linked to 24 Sussex since January 2016.

These contracts are on top of the thousands of dollars each month dedicated to things like general upkeep of the home, security, snow removal, and the maintenance of the pool that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his family still use on occasion.

Documents obtained last summer by Radio-Canada revealed that between November 2015 and April 2016, that monthly total was about $36,000.

WATCH: HGTV’s Bryan Baeumler calls crumbling 24 Sussex an ‘embarrassment’

 

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The bulk of the additional $113,000 in contracts ($79,185) was for consulting work done by Turner and Townsend CM2R Inc. The construction and project management company is headquartered in the U.K. and has been involved in everything from London’s Shard tower to a runway project at Hong Kong International Airport.

According to the NCC, the firm provided “advisory services on project costing” for the 24 Sussex project, which is still in the very early stages.

In February 2016, a $4,000 contract was awarded to Hydro Ottawa for the preliminary design of an electrical service vault for the 150-year-old home.

READ MORE: Behind the scenes of the Trudeaus’ move to Rideau Cottage

Security services from a private firm were then hired in late May 2016 at a cost of $15,000. The RCMP are normally in charge of security, but the extra manpower was needed to escort any outside contractors or service providers (electricians, etc.) who needed to be on the grounds or in the house.

“This is a normal practice for all official residences,” said the NCC’s Nicholas Galletti. “These services are not the responsibility of the RCMP.”

Last August, Ottawa’s Robertson Martin Architects were asked to provide the NCC with a “typical project costing” assessment for $2,251.

And most recently, in January, the NCC hired engineering consultants EXP Services Inc. to investigate mould in the home at a cost of $11,892.

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FROM THE ARCHIVES: Take a tour of 24 Sussex Drive in 1983

In spite of the ongoing price tag attached to 24 Sussex, the NCC has also revealed that there is still no target date for the completion of renovations, and it has no estimate available for the expected cost of that work.

According to a report last November from online news site iPolitics, however, the cost of renovations could reach $38 million.

“The National Capital Commission continues to work with its federal partners, including the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, to develop a plan for the future of 24 Sussex Drive to ensure that the government is able to make a prudent and informed decision,” note this week’s new documents, which were tabled in the House of Commons in response to a written question from a Conservative MP.

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That includes figuring out things like security, accessibility, heritage preservation, functionality and environmental sustainability, the NCC wrote.

“Further information will be available in due course.”

The Trudeau family is currently living in Rideau Cottage, across the street from the traditional official residence. The family made the decision not to move into 24 Sussex shortly after the 2015 election.