Federal Buildings for Sale?

March 08, 2007

The Federal Government has announced that it is considering the sale and lease-back of nine federal buildings: 2 in Ottawa – the Thomas D’Arcy McGee and the Skyline Complex buildings. The remainder of the buildings are in Vancouver (401 Burrard and the Sinclair Centre), Calgary (Harry Hays), Edmonton (Canada Place), Toronto (Joseph Shepard Building), and Montreal (305 Rene Levesque West and 4225 Dorchester West buildings).

If the plan proceeds, the federal government intends to sell the properties, and then lease them back - the new owners would assume responsibility for maintenance, upkeep and repairs.

Public Works and Government Services Deputy Minister, I. David Marshall has issued a communiqué to all PWGSC employees, assuring them that there will be no job losses “if the sale-lease goes forward”. He does acknowledge that employees may be reassigned, but the department will ensure ongoing employment for the employees impacted by this change.

Mr. Marshall writes:

“…no decision has been made on the future of these nine buildings. The government will decide on whether or not to proceed only after a thorough analysis of the long-term costs of owning and leasing these assets. This work should be completed in the next few months.”

Mr. Fortier, Minister of PWGSC, announced the plan on March 5th, and has justified the plan to sell and lease-back, as follows:

“The government should do what governments do, that is concentrate on its priorities, and owning office buildings is clearly not a priority for Canadians.”

The average federal government building is 44 years old, according to the Ottawa Citizen. The federal government is one of the country’s largest landowners, occupying 6.8 million square metres of office space.