OTTAWA – Canadian taxpayers forked out almost $2 million – including more than $1,600 to remove a bed – to spruce up a luxury Muskoka resort for last year’s G8 summit.
The renovations included $500 to remove a small light fixture from one room and $3,000 to raise a large chandelier in the main lobby of Deerhurst Resort.
The Harper government picked up the tab, which also included $1,540 to move furniture in rooms used by the German delegation and $1,650 to remove a king-sized bed and headboard from a room used by the French delegation.
The details were obtained by The Canadian Press through an access-to-information request.
Deerhurst was sold to Skyline Hotels and Resorts for $26 million nine months after hosting the June 2010 summit.
A spokesperson for Public Works, which reimbursed Deerhurst for the renovations, said modifications to rooms were “based on the operational requirements identified to us” by the Foreign Affairs department and requested by the various leaders’ delegations.
A spokesperson for Skyline Hotels said most changes were requested for privacy and security reasons.
“Any specific furniture moves were requested by the specific delegations,” said Anne White in an email.
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“However, the temporary modifications might not have had anything to do with the actual leader’s accommodations. In many cases, due to privacy and security considerations and each nation being allotted a hotel floor or accommodation building, change requests related to temporarily transforming traditional hotel rooms and suites into round-the-clock temporary offices, work areas and private meeting rooms etc.”
In the case of the French delegation’s request to remove a king-sized bed from one its designated rooms, White said the $1,650 price tag “included removal of a wooden headboard from a wall and repairs/painting etc. to the wall to ensure it looked as if bed was never there.”
The documents obtained under access-to-information do not specify who asked for a small chandelier to be removed from a hospitality suite, at a cost of $500. White acknowledged it was “a smaller light fixture” but there was more involved than simply loosening a few screws.
“The work order actually entailed an electrician, an apprentice/assistant and a carpenter for disassembly and relocation of the large boardroom table” over which the chandelier presumably dangled. She said the table was put back in place after the chandelier was removed.
White said the tab also included packaging and storing the chandelier off-site, “due to finite storage space” at the resort. Moreover, after the summit, “the process was repeated to restore the room back to its original use.”
As for the $3,000-tab for raising the lobby chandelier, White said this light fixture “is very large and weighs several hundred pounds.” As a result, raising it “required an electrician, an apprentice, two additional persons as well as the rental use of two scissor-lifts as the chandelier had to be swung away and stabilized by two people while it was being raised to its highest point.”
Neither White nor Public Works explained why the chandelier needed to be raised, although White said: “It had to be restored to its original position once the event was over.”
Deerhurst also charged the government a 10 per cent management fee for making all the modifications, many of which White said were “relatively last-minute.”
According to Public Works, the federal government paid Deerhurst a total of $8.2 million for the provision of accommodation, food and beverage services and required renovations. Of that, roughly $95,000 was for renovation of office spaces, about $1.1 million for renovation of delegation accommodations and about $700,000 for renovation of meeting rooms and a media centre at the resort.
Departmental spokesperson Natalie Pennefather said “full and complete documentation” was required before the government finalized payment for any of the work done at Deerhurst. She said such records were “only available” through Access to Information.
Yet a subsequent access request for all receipts related to the $1.9-million renovation tab produced nothing close to full and complete documentation.
With respect to the $1.1 million in renovations to delegation accommodations, the documents show only that 12 one-bedroom suites were turned into six “exclusive adjoining suites,” a project which required “demolition, general construction, electrical and mechanical work, fixtures and furnishings.” No detailed breakdown of the costs was provided.
With respect to the $700,000 spent on meeting rooms, the only itemized costs provided were $15,225 for “hole coring” and $5,861 for “Pavilion concierge desk relocation.” All other invoices list only the cost of “the construction portion” and the 10 per cent management fee for work which is not identified.
Public Works said the invoices included contract numbers which the department used to validate that work was completed before making any payments.
Only with regard to the $95,000 in renovations to office spaces were detailed invoices provided. In addition to the chandelier and bed removals, those invoices show the government paid:
– $33,617 to construct a new computer room.
– $30,386 for additional wall panels.
– $1,650 for bathroom amenities
– $5,662 on data and phone cabling.
– $4,654 on door locks.
– $7,650 for ducts and exhaust fans in the leaders`lounge.
– $780 to rent a floral refrigerator.