OTTAWA, ON -- Environment Canada's decision to purchase new furniture rather than re-use or refurbish hundreds of work stations and equipment being stored while the agency's office undergoes renovation is drawing widespread flak.

Environment Canada, Canada's version of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, paid more than $140,000 to store its furnishings during extensive remodeling of its office building in Gatineau, QC, according to the National Post. The dollar figure was supplied by Advanced Business Interiors, an Ottawa-based company, that is receiving rent to store the work stations and related furniture.

What makes this surprising, is that Environment Canada has begun auctioning off the items, including wood cabinets, fabric covered panels and more on a government website.

“I’ve been dealing with the product for 26 years,” said Bill Toutant, president of the company. “This is like the BMW of furniture. It will last forever and is not obsolete. So to me, it’s just a crying shame that it’s being thrown out and could wind up being used for scrap steel.”

Officials of Advanced Business Interiors, which specializes in refurbishing and recycling office furnishings equipment, expressed concern that Environment Canada would spend money to store the items so long only to sell them off without first considering seeking bids to refurbish the items. Bill Toutan, president of the company, told the newspaper, "This is like the BMW of furniture. It will last forever and is not obsolete."

Toutan said the products could have been reburbished at about 20 percent of 30 percent of buying new, which also would have been better for the environment and helped create local jobs.

Posted by Rich Christianson

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