Nova Scotia

Parks Canada struggles with poor C.B. buildings

A Cape Breton official for Parks Canada says it's doing a good job maintaining its buildings, despite a database on the Treasury Board website showing many federal buildings are in critical or poor condition.

Louisbourg, Bell Museum faced costly repairs

A Cape Breton official for Parks Canada says it's doing a good job maintaining its buildings, despite a database on the Treasury Board website showing many federal buildings are in critical or poor condition.

Among the buildings listed as being in rough shape are the Fortress of Louisbourg, its interior fortress the iconic King's Bastion, as well as smaller structures such as visitor centres and tool sheds.

Chip Bird, a Parks Canada field unit superintendent, told CBC News his annual maintenance budget is $2.6 million for more than 200 buildings in Cape Breton, but he said he manages to stretch those dollars.

Roofs pose expensive problems

Bird said replacing roofs is one of the biggest challenges Parks Canada face. He pointed to recent repair jobs at the Alexander Graham Bell Museum in Baddeck and Louisbourg's fortress.

"If we were to completely replace the [Bell] roof as it had been inspected three or four years ago, it could be a $3- to $4-million job. We've been able to do some work for a lot less than that and have effectively resolved the problems that we have with that roof," he said.

"One of our carpenters at the Fortress of Louisbourg designed a new roof to help us resolve some of the concerns we're having there and really did an exceptional job."

Maintaining buildings in locations with harsh climates, such as Cheticamp, adds to the challenge, he said.

Across Canada, other buildings with maintenance issues are Ottawa's Parliament Buildings, the Canada Science and Technology Museum, Health Canada’s Laboratory Centre for Disease Control and the Canadian Revenue Agency headquarters.

Also included on the list are thousands of smaller structures such as storage sheds, lighthouses and remote RCMP detachments.

Bird said the designations of "critical" and "poor" has more to do with the costs of fixing or replacing the buildings and is not about their safety.

"We'll continue to apply the allocations that we have, but I'm confident that we'll continue to ensure that when visitors come, they're safe and have a really exceptional experience," he added.

He said the priority for the coming year is doing work on visitor centres in Cape Breton.  

With files from The Canadian Press