They may be rated as one of Ottawa’s slowest, most secretive, and staunch decision-making bodies, but no one has ever considered the National Capital Commission an evil genius.
That changed on Thursday when their secret strategy to flatten the prime minister’s residence at 24 Sussex Dr. become clear.
By declaring even the kitchen a fire and health risk if it continues to serve, it is the kitchen where Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, his family and guests have been remotely served for seven years. years, the NCC officially froze the site and nailed an unofficial demolition order on the gate.
This is not an unfortunate development.
Having been inside the place for some media functions, I can say that there is no room on the main floor that can leave even the most impressive guests gaping in awe.
It reeks of 150-year-old bad interior design now served by a complete failure of heating, cooling and ventilation systems.
This week’s total shutdown appears to be the culmination of a seven-year case-building effort aimed at ensuring that even historic romantics who vividly imagine the the prime minister’s mansion as a sort of shrine of thrift at all costs, will see the effort of conservation as futile.
The NCC scheme was first hatched in 2015 when they finally found a prime minister who refused to move in.
Justin Trudeau, who can claim that the house has become known as his home from the hospital, has stated that it is not suitable as a safe place for his family and moved over. road to “Rideau Cottage” in the vast grounds of the Governor General.
The committee then released a detailed report detailing how 24 Sussex was a money pit from hell and an architectural disaster.
There are no toilets for visitors, the kitchen is not suitable for official functions and “the dining room is both too large for a family and too small for state or official dinners”.
Besides the basic design flaws are the ubiquitous fire hazard, chronic plumbing problems and lack of air conditioning, not to mention asbestos, lead and mold throughout the interior.
Then there’s the reduced price tag. Just the essentials will cost $36 million, excluding a new pool house, updated security, and measures to meet modern building code requirements, due to inflation. traditional government contracts, which could mean $100 million worth of rebuilds.
So, after investing $5.4 million in basic maintenance over the past decade, NCC unleashed the great part of their plan: Do nothing.
After seven years with only a single staff skeleton residing, the completely empty mansion will now wait until the spring when teams move in to remove “obsolete systems and infrastructure” including asbestos, heating and electricity. This sounds more like pre-demolition than initiating overdue recovery.
And so let’s credit the NCC for doing what they do best.
They let Father Time do their dirty work in the increasingly dilapidated mansion and now it’s time to declare the mission accomplished.
All that’s missing is a few polls to show that the public is no longer interested in saving the irretrievable and that a fleet of bulldozers can kick in and carve out. fix the problem in a few weeks.
Of course, demolition will come with the political headache of building a replacement.
The expulsion of the British High Commissioner from the estate near Earnscliffe could be a relatively simple matter. At least that mansion has Canadian historical significance as the home of Sir John A. Macdonald and where he died.
But if diplomatic sensibilities prevent such a move, it’s certainly time to build a large, if not monumental, mansion with space for official functions to survive. in the next 5 decades or so.
Obviously it doesn’t have to match the real estate standards of other G7 leaders, like the 694,000 square foot residence of the German chancellor, the White House or the Italian president’s residence in one of the grand palaces. best of the world.
But no matter what you think of Trudeau and his penchant for high-end hotels while traveling abroad, Canadian prime ministers shouldn’t be staying as tenants in a ‘small house’ officially used by aid the viceroy’s leading agent.
So keep the address 24 Sussex Drive, clean the house and be grateful. Anything that springs up again on that prime piece of land with river views will be significantly cheaper and certainly better than fixing the rubble of the residential area currently located there.
That is the key point.