Let’s tear down 24 Sussex — and replace it with something we can be proud of

spaminator

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Plan for fate of crumbling 24 Sussex expected by fall, minister tells MPs
Author of the article:Canadian Press
Canadian Press
Published May 29, 2023 • 1 minute read

OTTAWA — Public Services and Procurement Minister Helena Jaczek says the Liberal government expects to have a plan for the future of 24 Sussex Drive by the fall.


Jaczek appeared today before a House committee on government operations and was pressed by Opposition MPs on when her government intends to make a decision about the official residence of the prime minister.


Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his family have not taken up residence in the mansion, which was closed to staff last fall due to its worsening condition, including a rodent infestation.

The National Capital Commission, controller of the property, says contractors recently began removing aged electrical systems and asbestos, which is necessary regardless of any decision on the building’s future.

A spokeswoman says the current work is expected to take one year and cost $4.3 million.

Jaczek says the government expects the commission to provide a detailed list of options for the property’s future, and the minister told MPs she anticipates having a plan by the fall.
 

spaminator

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It's time to stop stalling and do something about 24 Sussex
The residence of the prime minister of Canada should be a source of national pride regardless of the occupant


Author of the article:Brian Lilley
Published May 30, 2023 • Last updated 2 days ago • 3 minute read

By the time a plan for fixing up 24 Sussex Drive is handed to the Trudeau government, this fall, it will have been eight years since anyone has lived there.


Once the plan is handed over to the government, it will no doubt take years to complete the public consultations, issue the bidding rules and eventually hire the contractors to do the work.


By the time all of this is over, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s 14-year-old daughter, Ella-Grace, will likely have taken over the leadership of the Liberal Party seeking to put a third generation of the family in the Prime Minister’s Office.

Most wars take less time than it takes the National Capital Commission (NCC) to draw up plans for fixing up 24 Sussex Drive. The level of incompetence that it must take to go this long without actually doing anything, or planning anything, is the kind of incompetence that can only be found in bureaucratic Ottawa.


It’s not like the NCC, the arm’s-length federal agency charged with overseeing official residences, hasn’t come up with plans — they’ve mostly been bad ones. There was a 2015 report that officials had looked at spending $150 million to upgrade the building, adding in offices for the prime minister’s top staffers and turning it all into a West Wing North situation where the PM would live and work in the same place.

Thankfully, that plan was quickly dropped.

In 2017, an NCC plan put forward vague ideas for what would need to be done without a price tag.

“Once completed, the residence will integrate modern security features to protect the prime minister and visiting dignitaries, and enhance both the official state and the private functionality of the residence; it will also incorporate universal accessibility features. Unique heritage characteristics will be preserved, and aspects related to environmental sustainability will be improved,” the report said.


That was six years ago, and nothing has been done, though the building has deteriorated.

A report by the National Post in April detailed how the walls and basement of the prime minister’s official residence were filled with rodent carcasses. The wiring was considered a safety hazard and a warning that an incident last summer could have burned the place down if it had happened at night when no one was there.

As much fun as it would be to place all of the blame at the feet of the overly bureaucratic NCC, something popular among Ottawa residents, it’s clear that the Trudeau government has been stalling. A letter from Marc Seaman, the head of the NCC, to the Trudeau government in January 2022 showed that plans had been presented but not decided on.


The redacted summary of the letter prepared for the government shows Seaman “expressing concern around the delay of a cabinet decision beyond December 2021 on the future of 24 Sussex Drive.” You don’t expect a cabinet decision on any issue unless there is something to consider and vote on.

The only work that has begun on the property is currently ongoing to ensure it doesn’t fall apart or fall over.



The residence of the prime minister of Canada shouldn’t be the butt of jokes, it should be a source of national pride regardless of the occupant. We don’t have that now and haven’t had that in a long time.

We’ve known for at least 20 years that major renovations, safety renovations, needed to be done. They haven’t been done because we, as a country, are too often pennywise and pound foolish.

It’s going to cost money, serious money, to repair 24 Sussex Drive or tear it down and build something new. It’s time to swallow that pill and get on with making decisions.

blilley@postmedia.com
 
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spaminator

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First phase of Centre Block renovation project to be completed by year’s end
The project is still estimated to cost between $4.5 billion and $5 billion despite complications caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the 2022 convoy protest.

Author of the article:Catherine Morrison
Published Jun 23, 2023 • Last updated 22 hours ago • 3 minute read

What goes into a multi-billion dollar renovation project billed as the “largest and most complex heritage rehabilitation ever seen in Canada”?


Answer: Over a dozen specialists, more than 450 construction personnel working onsite daily and a passion for preserving heritage.


The federal government’s undertaking of rehabilitation for Canada’s main Parliament building is on track in terms of timeline and budget, the project’s lead says, with the project’s first phase to be completed by the end of this year.

The building housing the Senate, the House of Commons and the Library of Parliament hadn’t undergone a major renovation since it was rebuilt and reopened in 1920, four years after it was mostly destroyed in a fire. Modernization was needed because of crumbling mortar, damaged sculptures and aging water pipes, and work was also needed to update the mechanical and electrical systems, address security issues, improve accessibility and ensure the building was earthquake-proof.


According to Rob Wright, assistant deputy minister for Public Services and Procurement Canada, the mammoth project to create the “Parliament Hill of the future” is estimated to be completed by the end of 2031, on the tail end of previous estimates that renovations could be finished anywhere between 2030 and 2031. The work is being done as part of a series of projects on Parliament Hill.

Wright said the project is still estimated to cost between $4.5 billion and $5 billion despite complications caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2022 convoy protest and the labour strike.

According to Wright, the project is composed of three phases, with the first two taking place somewhat simultaneously. The first phase, which he said would be done by the end of 2023, involves a mass excavation for the Parliament building and taking out heritage items to “bring it down to its bones.” Demolition and abatement work inside the building is already 90 per cent complete, according to Wright.


Phase two, he said, consists of bringing Centre Block up to modern building codes and finalizing the structural layout. The third phase includes bringing systems into the building and reapplying heritage elements that have been restored.

Key aspects
One of the most complex and challenging technical aspects of the project is construction of the basement that will house the new 32,000-square-metre Parliament Welcome Centre. To allow for that work, a temporary structure comprising 800 temporary posts will be created to hold up Centre Block, with digging of up to 23 metres being done to get rid of the bedrock in front of and under the historic building. The building will be separated from the bedrock using 500 base isolators, which will work as shock absorbers in case a seismic event occurs.


All the work done while rehabilitating the building is being done with heritage protection in mind, the project head says. The building contains 50 high-heritage rooms to be restored, with more than 20,000 heritage assets including hand-painted linen, stained glass windows, light fixtures, sculptures and paintings. Work is being done with support from experts in 17 specialisms ranging from stained glass to stone work to metal work.

The project’s heritage lead, Kate Westbury, says items are being safely kept in storage facilities during the restoration process, with each artefact identified using a tagging system she began developing in 2018.


Do you want a pre-construction tour? Watch our 7-part video series here

Goodnight, Centre Block: A special tour of Canada’s Parliament on the eve of a decade-long renovation

Centre Block by the numbers
200,000+: Archaeological artefacts uncovered onsite, including military buttons, ceramics, a knife pre-dating contact between Indigenous peoples and Europeans and more.

20,000 square metres: Size of the façade with approximately 365,000 stones, 35 per cent of which will be disassembled for repairs or rehabilitation; the mortar will be replaced and the stone will be laser-cleaned.

40,000: Approximate number of truckloads of bedrock removed to make way for the Parliament Welcome Centre.

20,000+: Heritage assets, including hand-painted linen, stained glass windows, light fixtures, sculptures, paintings and a carillon.


23 of 92: Boreholes that have been drilled.

500: Approximate number of base isolators to be installed during renovations to function as shock absorbers in case of a seismic event; approximately 800 temporary posts will be drilled in to support the building.

22.5 million: Approximate number of pounds of hazardous material that has been removed.

450+: Construction personnel onsite daily.

65 per cent: Expected reduction in energy use.

50 per cent: Expected reduction in water consumption.
 

Tecumsehsbones

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Mar 18, 2013
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By the time all of this is over, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s 14-year-old daughter, Ella-Grace, will likely have taken over the leadership of the Liberal Party seeking to put a third generation of the family in the Prime Minister’s Office.
You know you're bitter when you attack a 14-year-old child. Stay classy.
 

spaminator

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PM's residence at 24 Sussex may be replaced rather than restored: Feds
Author of the article:Canadian Press
Canadian Press
Published Aug 29, 2023 • Last updated 1 day ago • 2 minute read
The problem-plagued residence could be replaced instead of restored, the government says.
The problem-plagued residence could be replaced instead of restored, the government says.
OTTAWA — The prime minister’s problem-plagued official residence could be replaced instead of restored, though the government says its plans are not complete.


A spokesperson for Procurement Minister Jean-Yves Duclos said building a new residence is among the options being considered as the department comes up with a plan for the future of 24 Sussex, but any conversations about that are at very early stages.


The minister’s office said it is working with the National Capital Commission to develop a plan that it aims to release soon.

The historic house overlooking the Ottawa River is in dire need of repairs for everything from electrical work to windows, doors and the roof.

A 2021 report estimated it would cost at least $36.6 million just to complete the deferred maintenance on the main residence, which was built in 1868. Bringing it up to code would likely cost millions more.


A report last summer found the walls, attic and basement of the 34-room mansion were full of rodent carcasses and feces, which caused air quality issues that were partly responsible for the shutdown of the residence last fall.

The report also found water damage, flaking walls, rusting pipes and electrical issues that make the property a fire hazard.

Construction work began this spring to fix those critical issues, work the National Capital Commission says must be done regardless of the government’s plans. It’s expected this will take about a year.

In September, crews will start work to remove mechanical and electrical systems and clean up substances such as asbestos.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his family never moved into the building, opting instead to live at nearby Rideau Cottage when he was first elected in 2015.


Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre told reporters Tuesday that refurbishing or replacing the official residence would not be important to him if he was in government.

“Of my list of priorities, this will probably be the last,” he said at a press conference in Oshawa, Ont.

Poilievre, who lives at Stornoway, the official residence of the Opposition leader, said the prime minister’s residence should be “a very basic, secure place” to live.

“I think they should be reasonable and practical, to provide for the ability to receive dignitaries … and most important of all, have security,” he said.

The building at 24 Sussex includes a state area where foreign dignitaries are received and a separate, private living area.

The NCC is legislated to oversee the grounds. A dozen prime ministers lived there between 1951 to 2015, including Pierre Elliott Trudeau.
 

Ron in Regina

"Voice of the West" Party
Apr 9, 2008
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Regina, Saskatchewan
This is 150 year old “Heritage” money pit, and I don’t think the current Prime Minister even spent the night there in the last six years though I could be wrong. He and his family reside at the Prime Ministers Cottage Where he ran parliament from single-handedly including all of his breathy moist daily Covid updates for months when he had parliament shut down.
Yep, I think they still cook this meals in this monstrosity, then they would deliver them to the PM over at the cottage when he wasn’t on vacation.
Personally, I think the place should be ripped down and removed, and then replaced with a 48 suite low-rental complex on the same property footprint, and that it’s mandatory for the PM & family to reside in one of the suites while in office. It would put the elite in touch with actual real people fighting day today just to get through boredom and monotony while trying to feed their families.
I still believe this above.
With 400,000 new immigrants to Canada every year, this would utilize the land in a manner much more fitting to the current political concepts and would be a sign of putting the money where their mouth is, from sooo many different directions.
400,000 is so days gone by… it’s much larger now.
Ripping the place down and replacing it with something like this could probably be done for somewhat comparable dollar figure than tried to rehab this 150 year old monstrosity. Having whatever PM happens to be in power at any given time reside there also would be a great thing for realizing that Canadians aren’t just an abstract population to the elite.
I still believe this also. A dwelling should just be a dwelling. The PM can host parties or receptions elsewhere. Justin sounds like he just needs a bachelor pad at this point anyway.
In 15 years when it turns into its own little mini ghetto, and they need to revamp it, at least they’ll be starting with something with modern wiring and installation and doors and windows and meth and coke & crack and graffiti as opposed to the current building that nobody resides in.
The above is from post #6 & 01.21.23. I still think this thing should’ve been ripped down long ago.
 

spaminator

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Photos reveal that 24 Sussex has been gutted inside
The official home of prime ministers in Ottawa has been closed and decommissioned for more than a year

Author of the article:Tom Spears
Published Apr 13, 2024 • Last updated 1 day ago • 2 minute read

Here’s 24 Sussex Drive as you’ve never seen it before.


More than a year after being closed and decommissioned, the official home of prime ministers has been thoroughly gutted.


Gone is the plaster, the flooring, wiring, plumbing, elevator — in effect the surface layer of almost the whole interior. Now the empty shell is standing waiting for the order either to renovate it from the top to the bottom or to demolish and rebuild. At last estimate, either option would cost close to $40 million.

The National Capital Commission has posted a selection of photos online. More than 130 were also released through an access to information request from this newspaper.


Peter Coffman, who teaches the history of architecture at Carleton University, says the photos don’t look bad if they illustrate one stage toward eventual restoration of the historic building. However he’s not confident that this will happen.


His own home had a new roof installed a year ago “and there was a time where it looked a lot like that,” Coffman said.

But he said the “glacial pace” of making decisions about No. 24 Sussex, and the lack of commitment to restoring it at all, made him fear that the building would just be abandoned.

The NCC closed 24 Sussex for health and safety reasons. PHOTO BY NATIONAL CAPITAL COMMISSION /Handout
The building has been empty since the end of 2022, when the NCC decided there were too many hazards to ignore. These included bad wiring, water pipes that were getting thinner and threatening to flood the place, and asbestos. The dead mice in the walls didn’t help, either.

No one has lived there since the Harpers left in 2015, though until 2022 it was used as office space for some Prime Minister’s Office staff. It has gradually decayed as repairs were left undone for lack of money.


With all the recent changes, the NCC feels it will be safe to let the house sit unfinished until there’s a decision (and a budget) for a long-term fix.


Former prime ministers Stephen Harper and Jean Chrétien have volunteered to lead a private fundraising effort to rescue No. 24 Sussex. Bob Plamondon, a former NCC board member, said this cross-party effort would make the issue less political.

“Provided they don’t need funding from the government, in theory they could take this project on and contract with a registered charity,” Plamondon said in a recent interview. “As well, there’s a certain efficiency in the decision-making process when it’s a small group.”

A joint effort spearheaded by two former prime ministers, from two different political parties, “takes the politics out of it,” Plamondon said.
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spaminator

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NCC eager for green light on 24 Sussex Drive, CEO says
'Our board feels very very strongly that 24 Sussex is an important heritage building for our country'

Author of the article:Blair Crawford
Published Apr 18, 2024 • Last updated 1 day ago • 2 minute read

The National Capital Commission is ready to roll if and when the federal government makes a decision on the future of 24 Sussex Drive.


NCC CEO Tobi Nussbaum was asked after Thursday’s board meeting for his reaction to reports that former prime ministers Jean Chrétien and Stephen Harper had offered to lead a fundraising effort to restore the crumbling structure that was once home to Canadian PMs.


“In terms of the efforts made by Mr. Chrétien, which were reported in the press, if the government had said, ‘Yup, that’s something that we’re prepared to accept as an offer,” we would, of course, find a way to work closely with them,” Nussbaum said.

“We are keen to move forward. Our board feels very very strongly that 24 Sussex is an important heritage building for our country. We would like to see progress, and, if there are creative options on the table, we would be willing to partner with whomever wanted to help us with that. But, obviously and clearly, the decision on next steps is for the Government of Canada to make.”


The residence, vacant since Harper moved out in 2015, was riddled with asbestos, had decrepit heating, plumbing and electrical systems and, finally, was infested with wasps, bats, rodents and other pests. When it was declared unsafe for the few remaining staffers who worked there, the NCC began stripping it down to the studs. That work is mostly finished and the building’s heritage artifacts are now in storage, Nussbaum said. In the coming months, work will begin on the property’s gatehouse, he said.

Built in 1866 by an Ottawa Valley lumber baron, 24 Sussex was home for every Canadian prime minister from Louis St-Laurent to Harper and was the boyhood home for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Trudeau, however, chose to live at Rideau Cottage on the grounds of Rideau Hall after he was first elected in 2015.


“We’ve been very clear for many years now, but certainly since we initiated the abatement work at 24 Sussex last fall, that we are awaiting a decision from the Government of Canada on the future of prime ministerial residence, and that could include a decision on whether 24 Sussex remains the official residence or not,” Nussbaum said.

“We’ve been very very clear that the work we’re doing does not prejudge any outcome. We feel that we’re doing everything we can to prepare the moment when the Government of Canada turns to us and says, ‘OK. We’ve made a decision. Please move ahead.'”
 

Taxslave2

House Member
Aug 13, 2022
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Could probably build 10 apartments in that thing. Make cabinet ministers live there to show them how people are forced to live because of their incompetence and general lack of care for taxpayers.