The grounds of Government House aren’t exempt from provincial belt-tightening — the number of flower bulbs out on tender is between 15 and 20 per cent lower than in previous years.
Peter Noel, private secretary to Lt.-Gov. John Crosbie, said Government House was asked to curb spending like all provincial entities were after this year’s budget.
“Our grounds manager, when he put together his order, had that top of mind,” Noel said.
He was commenting in response to criticism of the Government House bulb tender.
The Atlantic Canada director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation told The Telegram earlier this week he doesn’t view flower bulbs as a necessary expense.
Kevin Lacey said officials would be hard-pressed to justify how a bunch of flowers that last less than a month is important to the dispensing of the lieutenant-governor’s duties and worthy of taxpayer dollars.
He said people trust public officials to use their money wisely and that means spending only on things necessary to the job.
“Certainly all of us, as taxpayers, have had to make sacrifices and changes, and so should these appointed positions,” Lacey said.
“It’s not even the amount of money. It’s the principle of the matter.”
The Government House tender was issued Sept. 6 and closed Sept. 13.
It called for more than 10,000 bulbs.
Among the varieties sought are King Alfred daffodils (4,000), Mickey Mouse single (200), and Double Dazzle double (200). The latter two are early blooming tulips.
Noel noted the bulbs aren’t just for Government House.
He said they’ll also be planted at other sites maintained by the grounds crew, such as the Colonial Building, Unified Family Court and the War Memorial.
He believes it’s important to keep the historic sites looking good, especially with the number of tourists a building like Government House attracts.
It’s necessary to maintain the War Memorial, he adds, because it honours veterans.
“I don’t think anybody would argue it’s important to keep (that site) looking as good as possible,” he said.
Last year, Government House spent roughly $6,500 on bulbs.