As Canadians across the country tightened their belts the past few years, the federal government was busy building an $8-million Barn on the grounds of Rideau Hall to serve as a storage facility.
The little-known, but pricey, pandemic-era construction project was overseen by the National Capital Commission, the feds’ supercharged parks-and-rec department responsible for maintaining Canada’s official residences.
Details of the project emerged from access-to-information records obtained by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. All told, the Barn cost taxpayers $8,049,853.
To put that in perspective, that’s enough money to buy this “palatial mansion” on the banks of the Rideau Canal, described as “Ottawa’s most opulent home.”
“I don’t know much about farming, but I’m pretty sure my buddies in Brooks can build a barn for a lot less than eight million bucks,” said Franco Terrazzano, CTF Federal Director. “It seems like the NCC goes out of its way to spend as much money as possible.”
The two-storey facility, billed as the government’s first “zero-carbon” building, is called the Barn and serves as a “working and storage space,” according to the NCC.
The NCC approved the final design for the project in June 2019. Shovels hit the dirt in July 2020, with construction wrapping up during the winter of 2021.
The Barn features a “washing bay,” a “repair garage working area,” a “tool and equipment storage area,” “vehicle storage,” and additional “storage space.”
The records obtained by the CTF indicate there were several “change orders” on the project, which means the design was changed after construction began.
The NCC has a long history of complaining of “decades of underfunding” or “chronic underfunding” when it comes to Canada’s six official residences, which are the taxpayer-funded mansions for politicians, the governor general and visiting foreign officials.
But a recent report from the CTF revealed the NCC spent $135 million renovating and maintaining the properties from 2006 to 2022.
Nevertheless, the NCC claims it needs another $175 million from taxpayers to “restore” the official residences over the next decade.
“It’s ridiculous for the NCC to be crying poor when it blew $8 million on a Barn,” Terrazzano said. “If the NCC can’t figure out how to manage properties without costing taxpayers an arm and a leg, then the government needs to find someone else who can.
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