More than ten years have passed since an Auditor General's report called for urgent repairs to 24 Sussex, the official residence of Canada's prime ministers. Designated by the Government of Canada as a Classified federal heritage building (the higher of two possible levels of federal designation), the structure has sat vacant since 2015.
Costs of restoration and necessary upgrades to the heritage building have been estimated at $34 million. The cost of building a replacement has been estimated at $38 million.
Heritage Ottawa's Leslie Maitland appeared on CBC Ottawa Morning yesterday along with Aaron Wudrick, federal director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. While Maitland maintains that 24 Sussex should be fixed and Wudrick believes it should be torn down, both agree that leaving the building vacant is coming at too high a cost for Canadian taxpayers.
"It costs hundreds of thousands of dollars every year, even if nobody's living in it. Doing nothing does not save us money." said Wudrick. "This is an important building, and we should do something about it. It's time to make a decision to either fix it, or tear it down and replace it."
Maitland maintains that 24 Sussex merits conservation for both its historic architecture and contextual significance. Restoration of the heritage building is less restrictive than some may think. "When you're restoring a building, you're not specifically restoring every doorknob, every bracket. You work with what are considered to be the historic values, the exterior shell, and then, frankly, you can get creative." she said.
"Deferred maintenance is a scourge on our infrastructure." said Maitland. "It's time to get moving. Just leaving it is irresponsible, in my opinion."
CLICK HERE to hear the interview on CBC Ottawa Morning.
Tax Advocate, Heritage Expert Agree: Don't Let 24 Sussex Fall into Further Disrepair | CBC Ottawa, Jan. 16, 2019
Is There A Better Way to Fix 24 Sussex? | Ottawa Citizen | November 27, 2015
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