01/20/2015 03:18 EST | Updated 03/22/2015 05:59 EDT

Federal Building In Edmonton Should Be Sold: Wildrose

EDMONTON - The Wildrose party says if Premier Jim Prentice needs to cut costs to save the economy, he can start by selling the biggest white elephant on the Alberta legislature grounds — the Federal Building.

Shayne Saskiw, Wildrose house leader, says the building is not needed and only serves to showcase the reckless excess of the Progressive Conservatives.

"The government must seriously consider selling this grotesque model of waste and mismanagement," Saskiw told a news conference Tuesday as he stood in the shadow of the building, just up the hill from the legislature.

"We all know there's more than enough office space for politicians and bureaucrats in Edmonton."

Saskiw said he's not sure who would buy it, but added it would require deep pockets to take over an opulent, historic building that has six kinds of marble.

"This would be more for the hoity-toity crowd than anyone else."

Prentice is canvassing Albertans for ideas on how to transform the economy given that collapsing oil prices have drained billions of dollars from the treasury.

Bureaucrats — and eventually opposition politicians and government backbenchers — are to move into the renovated Federal Building starting next month.

The building has been modernized in some areas and restored in others at a cost of $375 million, about $100 million over budget, and is almost four years behind schedule.

The art-deco-style, 10-storey structure has also been in the crosshairs of criticism for other reasons.

Last year, it was learned that former premier Alison Redford's office had ordered changes to the penthouse meeting rooms to turn them into a luxurious apartment retreat for Redford and her daughter.

Those changes were cancelled and the penthouse now is back to its original format.

Earlier this month, the government acknowledged that in 2013 it cancelled the centrepiece $1-million skating rink on the plaza beside the building.

But the province had already built an $832,000 Zamboni garage and public change room beside the cancelled ice sheet. Officials say the garage will be used for storage.

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