Feds don’t even know what historic buildings they own, auditor warns

Canada’s auditor general has found the three federal agencies that own most of Canada’s heritage buildings are not doing enough to preserve them, which means future generations of Canadians could lose important parts of the country’s history.

Canada's auditor general has found that the three federal agencies tasked with historic preservation don't even have full lists of the growing number of properties that they own, as maintenance issues become more severe. Photo of Pacific Canada's 1st lighthouse - Fisgard by Gulielmus via Wikimedia Commons.
Canada’s auditor general has found that the three federal agencies tasked with historic preservation don’t even have full lists of the growing number of properties that they own, as maintenance issues become more severe. Photo of Pacific Canada’s 1st lighthouse – Fisgard by Gulielmus via Wikimedia Commons.

Parks Canada, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and National Defence collectively own 70 per cent of all federal buildings designated as heritage sites. They include lighthouses, armouries and buildings kept because important history happened in them.

Counting this one, auditor Michael Ferguson and his predecessor have filed three audits since 2003 highlighting concerns over conservation efforts for these properties, and this latest audit has found efforts to address these concerns have not kept up with needs.

Some buildings have crumbling bricks, no roofs and graffiti, and some are in real danger of collapsing, the latest report says.

This year’s audit found the three departments don’t even have full lists of the buildings they own, let alone ways of keeping track of the condition of heritage buildings.

Meanwhile, new buildings are acquired every year and resources are not always added for conservation.

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