Crown corporation proposes a bigger building to replace PM’s residence at 24 Sussex

The official residence of Canada’s prime minister, 24 Sussex Drive, should be replaced as it is not fit to serve as the home of a major world leader, says a new report by the Crown corporation responsible for government buildings in Ottawa.

The report by the National Capital Commission outlines numerous requirements for a new official residence, which likely would be larger than 24 Sussex and better equipped to host high-level visitors and dignitaries.

“Most G7 and Commonwealth leaders receive official visitors in a space dedicated for these purposes. Canada currently lacks such a facility,” the report reads.

The residence at 24 Sussex, it continues, “is very limited in its ability to support official functions, with poor accessibility, insufficient sized rooms and lack of support spaces.”

The report says the lack of a dedicated hosting space for diplomatic visits and government events has forced the federal government to take an “ad-hoc” approach that includes renting spaces, which presents logistical and security challenges.

CBC News obtained the NCC report through an access to information request. The existence of the document was first reported by the Toronto Star.

The NCC said the document will act as a guide for the planning and design of a future official residence, a project which has not yet started in earnest.

Future studies may examine questions about the location and design of the building.

The residence at 24 Sussex needs $36.6 million in repairs. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his family have never used the property, opting instead to live primarily at nearby Rideau Cottage.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrives for a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic outside his residence at Rideau Cottage in Ottawa on Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press)

The NCC report shows that “the overall state of the official residences continues to deteriorate due to years of chronic underfunding,” NCC spokesperson Dominique Huras told CBC News.

While the report does not include specific architectural plans for a future official residence, it does lay out the dimensions of a building that could serve as both a home to the prime minister and a venue for official events.

The proposed residence would cover more than 15,000 square feet. It would include a 5,352 square foot hosting area that could accommodate up to 125 people.

The residential portion of the proposed building would cover 4,689 square feet.

Those dimensions would make the residence larger and more usable than 24 Sussex Drive, which was built in 1868 and refurbished to become the prime minister’s residence in 1950, the report states.

The White House, by comparison, is 56,000 square feet. The official residence of the prime minister of the United Kingdom is 71,400 square feet.

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