Opposition parties question expenditure
The front facade of the Confederation Building on Prince Philip Drive in St. John’s, shown in March 2011, continues to undergo renovations.
— File photo by Joe Gibbons/The Telegram
Confederation Building has been buzzing with rumours for days that Premier Kathy Dunderdale is moving her office so the government can renovate the premier’s suite of offices on the eighth floor, but the government is saying don’t believe the rumours.
Transportation and Works Minister Paul Davis said despite accusations from the Liberals, the work being done on the eighth floor isn’t “cosmetic,” but critical to keeping the building from falling down around them.
But the Opposition Liberals are saying that at a time when the government is talking about budget cuts and layoffs, it smacks of a double standard to hear that the premier’s office will be renovated.
Dunderdale said if anybody thinks she’s just getting cosmetic upgrades done to her office, they should come up and see the state of the place.
“You really should come into the premier’s office when we have a rainstorm, because you have to manoeuvre your way through buckets because there’s rain coming in everywhere,” Dunderdale told reporters in Corner Brook.
Dunderdale said for the past few years the government has been replacing the windows of Confederation Building, and the last part to be completed is the central tower, which houses her office.
“There’s been no renovations approved for the premier’s office other than the same ones that have been done to their offices and every other office in East Block,” Dunderdale said.
But when windows were being replaced in other parts of the building, staff weren’t relocated to new offices during construction.
Davis said the work that will be happening on the eighth, ninth and tenth floors will be a bit more extensive than other parts of Confederation Building, but it’s absolutely necessary.
He said while workers have the building under construction, they’re going do some more serious work.
“The scaffolding is going to be wrapped right around the tower, and it’ll be completely closed in,” he said. “What’s also going to happen while the scaffolding is up there is that there’s electrical and mechanical work to be done.”
Davis said the electrical wiring is old, and a lot of the ventilation system needs to be replaced, and the best time to do that is while the construction on the windows is happening.
He wouldn’t give The Telegram an estimate of how much the work will cost, until the government gets tenders done, and then workers start the renovations.
“Until we actually get into the tender process, we won’t know what the amount is,” he said. “You’ve got to get in and start hauling stuff out to have a look at the scope of the work that needs to be done.”
Liberal MHA Andrew Parsons said he wants more information on what’s going on.
“We need to know what these renovations entail, and to me, if they’re not necessary then they should not be going ahead,” he said.
“Actions speak louder than words here. The premier is preaching fiscal prudence, but at the same time doesn’t apply it to herself. We’ve got renovations going on upstairs, we’ve got senior positions being created and filled, six-figure salaries being handed out.”