Governor-General Julie Payette will start living at Rideau Hall next summer, after having delayed her move into the official residence by more than a year, her office says.
When Ms. Payette was installed in the viceregal position in October, 2017, she could not immediately take residence at Rideau Hall because of renovations inside the main building that includes living quarters.
However, federal officials said the residence was ready about six months later, in the spring of this year. Ms. Payette balked at the move at the time, with her office invoking future renovations to make Rideau Hall more accessible to people with mobility issues.
Federal officials said the National Capital Commission, which manages six official residences in the Ottawa area, has urged the Governor-General in recent weeks to make the move that is in line with tradition. Since 1867, all governors-general have lived at Rideau Hall.
The sources added the NCC wanted Ms. Payette to free up Rideau Gate, the residence where she has lived since taking office. The standalone 8,500-square-foot house, located near the grounds of Rideau Hall, is needed by the Department of Foreign Affairs to house visiting foreign leaders and dignitaries.
The Globe and Mail granted anonymity to the four sources because they were not authorized to publicly speak about this matter. Ms. Payette’s office confirmed she will take residence at Rideau Hall “in the summer of 2019.”
The delayed move into Rideau Hall is one of the criticisms Ms. Payette, a former astronaut, has faced in her first year as Governor-General, including questions about the frequency of her public events, the number of groups to which she offered her patronage and her perceived willingness to hold the largely ceremonial position.
According to a report released last month by the NCC, Rideau Hall is in “good” condition, which is equal to or better than all other official residences, including the Prime Minister’s residence at 24 Sussex Dr. and his cottage at Harrington Lake, which are deemed to be in “critical” condition.
“[Rideau Hall’s] building systems met operational requirements, and were a low risk to fail at the time of the asset building inspection in 2017,” the NCC said.
Ms. Payette’s office defended her decision to remain at Rideau Gate last August, without providing a timeline for her eventual move to Rideau Hall.
“Convinced of the value of making Rideau Hall fully accessible to all Canadians, the Governor-General intends to facilitate the implementation of universal accessibility measures as a legacy project, including any maintenance and rehabilitation work required for the conservation of the historic character of Rideau Hall,” spokeswoman Marie-Ève Létourneau said at the time.
The NCC confirmed that it has recently been in contact with Ms. Payette’s office to oversee her move into Rideau Hall.
“The National Capital Commission is always in regular communication with the Office of the Secretary of the Governor-General to facilitate Her Excellency’s taking up residence at Rideau Hall,” NCC spokesman Jean Wolff said.
In recent months, the NCC changed the heating system, renovated a washroom, replaced lighting systems and upgraded furnishings and furniture layouts at Rideau Hall. There has also been work on the building’s foundations and three washrooms in the administrative building, according to the NCC. The ballroom is also facing a major overhaul.
“Recently, the NCC prioritized the development of a comprehensive strategy to improve universal accessibility throughout the residence, which has most recently included improvements to a state bathroom and the main elevator,” last month’s NCC report said.
Rideau Hall is a complex of nearly 30 buildings, including the main one that contains 175 rooms in 95,000 square feet. It includes both an administrative area and the private quarters, which cover about 5,000 square feet.