The residence at 24 Sussex Drive was built in 1868. (Archive photo).
This house was built in 1868 in the Gothic Revival style by Joseph Currier. In 1902 it was sold to a lumber baron, W. C. Edwards, and several chateauesque features were added but were eventually removed in the 1940s when the house was expropriated. It was renovated to serve as the prime minister's residence.
However, subsequent renovations sparked an initial political storm.
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It goes back to Pierre Trudeau and the swimming pool 40 or 50 years ago, says Michael Wernick, who was Clerk of the Privy Council from 2016 to 2019 and now holds the Jarislowsky Chair at the University of Ottawa on management in the public sector.
In 1975, when Pierre Trudeau was prime minister, anonymous private donors paid for the construction of a swimming pool and sauna at 24 Sussex, a renovation that tends to come up whenever someone suggests spending money for a building.
Michael Wernick, Jarislowsky Chair (Archive photo)
Every time money is spent on one of the official residences, you get a sort of theatrical performance from the opposition, the media and lobby groups, Mr. Wernick says. There is no political advantage to undertaking renovations or constructing a new building.
According to him, the current government had considered renovations from the beginning, but did not act.
In 2016 we were very close to a Cabinet decision on the refurbishment of 24 Sussex, he says. The matter was referred to Cabinet, which decided not to proceed.
Andrew MacDougall, a former communications director for Stephen Harper, says there is a small window during which a prime minister can afford to renovate the house, namely at the start of a mandate, when he has just won elections.
He claims that Justin Trudeau would have had the opportunity to renovate the house when he was elected prime minister and that the Harper government was not able to do so since he was elected with a minority in 2006. In 2011, when the Conservatives won a majority, the world was emerging from a global financial crisis.
Now is not the time to spend money on things like home renovation, he concludes.
Sheila Copps, a former Liberal deputy prime minister and former heritage minister, says she approached former prime ministers, including Jean Chrétien, Stephen Harper and Brian Mulroney, to see if they would support a multi-party initiative intended to end to the cul-de-sac and renovate 24 Sussex.
Now a lobbyist for the group Historic Ottawa Development Inc., Ms. Copps also says she approached the former NDP Leader Ed Broadbent, who agreed.
It's an important piece of Canadian history and should not be torn down or used for anything else, she said.
In a statement transmitted to CBC, the office of the Minister of Public Services and Procurement of Canada specifies that no decision for the future of 24 Sussex Drive will be taken lightly. He adds that discussions are still ongoing between the government and stakeholders.
Knowing that no major investment has been made for more than 60 years old, this ambitious work is underway and will balance security needs with universal accessibility, historic preservation and aspects of environmental sustainability, can also be read in this statement, which does not specify when the decision will be taken.
Based on a report by Jennifer Chevalier, ofCBC News< /p>