Auditor General finds nine years of government indecision on Centennial Building has cost taxpayers millions of dollars15 December 2015
FREDERICTON (GNB) – In her latest report to the legislative assembly, Auditor General Kim MacPherson identified concerns over the provincial government’s indecision on the Centennial Building in downtown Fredericton; a government office building which is largely vacant and past its useful life.
The Centennial Building opened in 1967 and centralized a number of government functions and departments in close proximity to the legislative assembly.
Over the past 10 years, a number of plans, analyses and business cases regarding the Centennial Building were produced, but none have been fully implemented.
“Nearing a half century old and well over its useful life, the future of the Centennial Building continues to be undecided,” said MacPherson. “Instead of following a long-term plan, the government focused on short-term decisions.”
The Centennial Building is deteriorating and not up to current building codes. Many of its critical mechanical systems have never been updated since the building opened. Additionally, no work can begin unless the building is completely vacant as the refurbishment would include the removal of asbestos. The refurbishment of the Centennial Building would cost an estimated $60 million.
The auditor general’s report shows that as of 2015 the Centennial Building is at 32 per cent occupancy.
“Operating a large office building which is only one third occupied is inefficient. Nine years of government indecision has cost taxpayers millions of dollars,” said MacPherson. “In my opinion, a decision on whether to refurbish or demolish is long overdue.”
The auditor general made a number of recommendations to the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure regarding the Centennial Building to improve long-term planning including:
- presenting government with an updated cost analysis of potential options for the facility, including the “do nothing” option;
- implementing a moratorium on modifications, fit-ups and new occupants in the Centennial Building until a decision on its future has been made; and
- proceeding immediately to implement the government’s chosen option for the facility.
The Centennial Building chapter can be found in Volume IV of the 2015 Auditor General Report which contains two new performance reports. Volume III, also released today, presents matters arising from the annual financial audit of the province and Crown agencies. These volumes and one page summaries for select chapters are available online.