Canada’s national energy regulator estimates it will spend about $21 million over two years – more than new funding announced to improve its existing oversight of pipeline companies – to move into its new Calgary offices.
The total moving costs add up to $20.7 million, say National Energy Board records tabled in Parliament. Those include about $12.4 million in 2013-2014 and about $8.3 million in 2014-2015 to relocate within Calgary into a building on a site that was previously affected by a large sinkhole.
The new money for the office move is almost double the new funding announced by the Harper government’s 2012 budget to improve the board’s safety oversight of pipelines. The NEB says it received $13.5 million over two years to increase pipeline inspections and comprehensive audits of companies.
The board has been facing questions in recent months and years about whether its reluctance to prosecute pipeline companies over some alleged safety violations is putting the public at risk.
The $21-million dollar office move is expected to be completed this month, but the board forwarded questions about the breakdown of those costs to Public Works and Government Services Canada, which in turn, sent those questions to Natural Resources Canada.
None of the three could provide detailed information about the costs.
“As the project is still in progress, fit-up, relocation and other costs are still being determined,” wrote Natural Resources Canada spokesman Paul Duchesne in an emailed response to questions.
Natural Resources Canada explained that the move was proceeding as part of a government-wide “Workplace 2.0” strategy to modernize its offices and create “smaller individual workspaces while creating greater flexibility for team and collaborative work.”
Duchesne also said that NEB’s previous office lease was “nearing its expiration” and that someone or some people “determined” the new building would be the “optimal solution” in the Calgary area as “the best fit for their operational requirements.”
The federal government wasn’t immediately able to specify who proposed the move.
The board posted a news release about the move on its website, but didn’t list the costs in this statement.
Board spokeswoman Tara O’Donovan said the costs weren’t included in her press release because its intent was to inform clients about the move and temporary closures that could affect them.
When asked whether it had any concerns about its new offices being on the site of a sinkhole, she said that the moving process was going ahead as planned and that it was “very happy” to be moving into the new building.
“As a tenant, we are very confident in the new office space,” said O’Donovan.