This Magazine

Progressive politics, ideas & culture

September-October 2017

The steep cost of renovating 24 Sussex

Just call it a money pit

Amy van den Berg@vandenba

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The residence at 24 Sussex has been vacant since the Harpers moved out in October 2015, with the Trudeaus in no apparent hurry to move into the house deemed in “urgent” need of repairs. In fact, the auditor general pegged renovation costs at $10 million back in 2008, and nearly a decade on, there’s reason to believe that price tag has ballooned. Though renovations have scarcely begun, Canadians have been ponying up for maintenance and consultation fees, as they brace for a doozy of a repair tab.


Monthly cost for basic upkeep of 24 Sussex

Amount the National Capital Commission has spent on outside contracts linked to the residence since January 2016, including:

– $79,185
Spent on “advisory services on project costing” by UK-based construction and project management company Turner and Townsend CM2R Inc.

– $15,000
Security services from a private firm hired to escort contactors onto the grounds (a job typically handled by the RCMP)

– $11,892
Fee for engineering consultants EXP Services Inc., hired in January to investigate mould on the premises

Meanwhile, Rideau Cottage—last renovated in 2013—also saw upgrades at the PM’s request. The Trudeaus now enjoy new light dimmers, window screens, flower arrangements, and an unspecified electrical cable that cost a whopping $15,000, plus security upgrades for another $2 million.


The PMO has yet to accept one of the possible reno options the NCC proposed, but the expected cost is in the $40 to $100 million range. The choices are:

$38 million
The cost for “Site Services & General Civil Work, Demolition and Abatement, Main Building, Annex Building (including pool), and Grounds Rehabilitation,” in the cheapest scenario. Changes to the main building would be the biggest expense at $13.49 million, including a whole new electrical system, exterior windows and doors, and a sunroom.

$55.5 million
With a two-year timeline, this option includes an upgrade to the pool house and $31.8 million for a security perimeter around the property.

$89 million
The cost of a new building annex with a new pool and $32.7 million for security upgrades, finished over four years.

$96.5 million
What the public would pay to get a structure they can actually use. The new building would be open for tours and include a concrete and steel structure to protect the residence from explosions and major attacks.


$12 million
New 7,500-square-foot private residence; the main building can be used for state functions

$3 million

$1.5 million
Fire protection, new plumbing, heating, and air conditioning


Dry pantry

Walk-in cooler

China cabinet

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