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Taxpayers billed millions for backup cottage at Harrington Lake

Canadians are on the hook for a $2.5-million backup cottage at the prime minister’s Harrington Lake estate, according to records obtained by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

“Not many Canadians need a multi-million-dollar backup cottage to do their job,” said Franco Terrazzano, Federal Director of the CTF. “This is a lot of money to store some lawn chairs and golf clubs.”

The National Capital Commission spent more than $11 million renovating the prime minister’s country estate, Harrington Lake, despite repeated statements that the project had a total budget of $8.6 million.

Harrington Lake is used by prime ministers as a recreational retreat and includes a 16-room main residence and a newly built $2.5-million backup cottage.

The original backup cottage was located up the road from the main residence at Harrington Lake and in poor condition. Photos of the cottage were obtained by the CTF through access to information requests and show the rough state of the house before it was knocked down and replaced.

Internal NCC reports from February 2019 say the building would be used as “temporary accommodation” during renovation work on Harrington Lake’s main residence. The federal government plans to use the backup cottage as workspace for security details and other officials after the renovation work on the main cottage is finished.

For $2.5 million, the NCC could have housed the Trudeau family in the nearby Thousand Owls estate for eight years straight. Thousand Owls is a 5,000 square foot luxury home on a 10-acre property that includes an indoor pool. It’s nearly the same distance from the prime minister’s Ottawa residence as Harrington Lake.

The NCC told the CTF that it did not consider any other options for temporary accommodations for the prime minister’s family during the renovations.

The NCC has repeatedly pegged the cost to renovate Harrington Lake at $8.6 million.

Despite the NCC’s claims, a news story from the Toronto Star estimates project costs at $11.7 million since 2019. The NCC did not provide comment to the Star, according to the outlet’s report.

However, the NCC’s spokesperson Valérie Dufour confirmed to the CTF that the price tag for the renovations was similar to the total reported by the Star.

“No Canadian would ever hire the NCC for a reno project because the bills always go through the roof,” said Terrazzano. “The NCC didn’t need to spend millions on Harrington Lake and it definitely didn’t need to build a backup cottage. The NCC might be the most incompetent crew in the federal government.”

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