According to government records, the prime minister’s 16-room lakeside residence in Québec costs taxpayers close to $20,000 a month to maintain.
Over the past six years, the Harrington Lake residence cost $1,425,011 — averaging $237,502 annually. Among the expenses disclosed by cabinet include obscure items like “snow and ice control” and “pest removal.”
According to Blacklock’s Reporter, specific expenses for 2022 included $116,464 for “mowing, snow and ice control, gardens, tree care and pruning.” Additional miscellaneous costs marked as “maintenance” totalled $103,618 for “cleaning, pest control, architectural maintenance and repairs.”
In an Inquiry Of Ministry, Cabinet also tabled $54,339 in “mechanical and electrical maintenance and repairs.”
Conservative MP Kerry-Lynne Findlay requested the figures. She asked, “What was the total annual budget to operate the residence and property?”
The National Capital Commission owns and maintains Harrington Lake and five other official residences, including the prime minister’s Ottawa residence at 24 Sussex Drive.
According to an access to information request, the vacant 24 Sussex Drive had more than $8,000 in utility bills in January.
Taxpayers spent $4,947 on hydro for the old house from December 31 to January 31 — compared to $6,710 for the previous hydro bill before everyone moved out.
Taxpayers also covered another $3,153 on gas in January, and $568 for water, billed over two months.
Nobody lives and works there, but the house runs sky-high bills for heat, hydro and water — largely thanks to Pierre Trudeau’s indoor swimming pool and sauna, built in 1975 and paid for by anonymous private donors. But taxpayers foot the bill for its continued upkeep.
Last winter, the home had monthly hydro bills in the $6,000 to $7,000 range, on top of gas bills of around $2,000.
The Commission, in a statement, said it maintains Harrington Lake as “a tranquil place to rest, reflect and confer in a secure, secluded and informal setting” for every prime minister since 1958. Costly renovations prompted a public outcry in 2022.
“I get comments of outrage from my constituents all the time,” Conservative MP Ben Lobb told a Commons government operations committee hearing last June 10. According to Blacklock’s Reporter, taxpayers were “pretty hot” that its kitchen renovation cost $735,000.
“A $735,000 kitchen?” said Lobb. “I am sure you have done some renovations over the years. I have done renovations over the years. I’ve never heard of a $735,000 kitchen.”
“Not even Drake’s kitchen in Toronto cost $735,000,” said Lobb. “What do you get for $735,000?”
The Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) obtained documents showing renovations at the main Harrington Lake House included $8.7 million by the National Capital Commission, another $2.5 million for a “back-up cottage” on the property and $2.3 million budgeted for security upgrades by the RCMP, a total $13.5 million.
“These investments are important,” then-Public Works Minister Filomena Tassi told the government operations committee.
“We want to ensure the investments we are making specifically in official residences are investments that are responsible, that help us with our gas emissions and greening,” said Tassi.