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Utility Costs Show Desperately Needed Home Renovations to PM Harper’s Home

11 August 2013

The home where the Prime Minister of Canada resides at 24 Sussex Drive is a real thing of beauty. Old brick architecture gives it charm, ivy fashionably climbs the wall, and the lawn is perfectly manicured. But underneath that beauty is millions of dollars of home renovation work that needs to be done; and if it isn’t, the home will continue to swallow tens of thousands dollars in utility costs each and every year.

First, the ugly news. Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s home on Sussex needs energy-efficient home renovations badly. The National Capital Commission last year spent more than $69,000 on heat and hydro alone for the home that’s 145 years old, which is about 20 per cent more than the year Harper and his family first moved in. Bills for Hydro Ottawa came in at $56,566 for the year, while gas bills totaled $12,573. That’s an average of about $5,800 per month spent on these two utility bills alone.

Sound crazy? That’s because it is, and the cost could probably be offset in a major way if home renovations were to be made such as proper insulation, energy-efficient windows and a geo-thermal system, as well as proper heating and air conditioning systems. In total it’s said that about $10 million worth of renovations are required for the property.

To be fair, it’s not the main family home alone that’s causing the excessive utility bills. A pool house sits on the property and its heater, pumps, and security lighting are all a drain on the power supply; and there are also three other auxiliary buildings on the property that all have their own power supply needs as well.

Still, that main home (and the buildings surrounding it) need help, and it doesn’t look as though they’re going to get it any time soon.

When the renovations were first brought up by the NCC in 2008, Harper said that he and his family would happily relocate on a temporary basis while the renovations took place. Then-Liberal leader Michael Igantieff even suggested that his family move out of the Stornoway residence they were in to allow the Prime Minister and his family the space. While Harper didn’t comment publicly on the suggestion, he also never moved into Stornoway – or anywhere else.

Rideau Gate, the home that members of the Royal Family stay in while visiting and that sits right across the street from 24 Sussex Drive, was also offered as a possible relocation area, but the Harpers have not yet moved in there either. In fact, PM Harper now takes the stance that Sussex Drive is “perfectly adequate” for his family, and that they will not leave. In order to complete the renos, they’d need to do so for about 18 months.

The Harpers do have alternative places to live, but neither would fit in with their Ottawa lifestyle. Their home in Calgary is certainly out of the question, as the Prime Minister needs to spend the majority of his time in the nation’s capital; and their home on Harrington Lake in Quebec is about half an hour away from Ottawa. Not a great distance for someone going to work, but it would make things difficult once the children started attending their Ottawa school again in the fall.

What do you think? Does Stephen Harper need to move out of the home and stop wasting taxpayers’ money on wasted energy? Or is it his right to live with his family where they choose?

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