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View Judy A. Sgro Profile
Lib. (ON)
The Centre Block rehabilitation project will aim to enhance the operations of Parliament from a functional and technological standpoint to ensure that the infrastructure continues to meet evolving requirements for the proper functioning of Parliament.
The CB rehabilitation project will work to ensure public participation in the work of Parliament, with continued access to chamber proceedings, question period and committee work, as well as to enhance and expand opportunities for public outreach by creating spaces that complement the historic building.
The CB rehabilitation project will explore options for universal accessibility and interconnectivity between buildings on the parliamentary campus via an underground tunnel system and supporting infrastructure.
The CB rehabilitation project will continue to create a balance of accessibility to Parliament and a secure environment.
The CB rehabilitation project will strive to restore the significant heritage fabric of the building as originally designed and built, and to update all engineering and life-saving systems to comply with contemporary expectations of wellness, safety, sustainability and universal accessibility in support of parliamentary functions.
Decisions regarding the future of Centre Block will be guided by the principles of fiscal responsibility and the conscientious use of resources, while taking into account the value placed on restoring historical heritage spaces.
At our working group's initial meeting, we were provided with an overview of the project plan and the roles of the various stakeholders. This complex project is being delivered following a fast-track methodology consisting of many overlapping activities. In this process, early decisions need to be made while requirements are still being developed. This risk is managed through a process of layered decisions that allow flexibility.
Going forward, we will be looking at detailed requirements for key functions in Centre Block and the visitor welcome centre complex to ensure that building functions reflect the operations of Parliament and the members' needs in our workplace.
In terms of immediate activities for Centre Block and the visitor welcome centre, it has been determined that there are two items that require endorsement at this time: the excavation contracting strategy for the visitor welcome centre and the construction hoarding. The working group has reviewed the options and brings forward our suggestions for the BOIE's consideration.
The visitor welcome centre requirement, or VWCC, was established in the 1999 document “Building the Future”. The concept was established and approved by the BOIE, COIE and cabinet in 2006 and reconfirmed in 2009 and 2011. Requirements for the VWCC phase 2 are still under development and will require the working group's validation and further BOIE approval. To ensure that the CB project maintains momentum, an early decision on the excavation contracting strategy is required.
The working group was presented with three options for the excavation strategy for phase 2 of the proposed visitor welcome centre. All options considered the following implications: security, visitor experience, parliamentary functional requirements and cost.
While it was clear to us that excavation is required to accommodate base building requirements, we were of the view that other expressed requirements should be assessed and decided upon after the election.
Accordingly, the working group recommends going forward with the excavation contracting strategy for phase 2 of the visitor welcome centre that includes the baseline of a 22,000-square-metre NET underground expansion of Centre Block, with options that allow for the contract to be scaled down or up depending on decisions with respect to allow actual requirements beyond machinery and equipment.
The second item is the construction hoarding. This site plan indicates roughly the maximum area for the construction site, which includes the Centre Block; the anticipated approximation of where the VWCC will require excavation; and room for construction trailers, material laydown and heavy equipment mobility. The black line indicates the approximate location proposed for the construction hoarding, leaving approximately half the front lawn for public access and for activities to continue throughout the project implementation.
Installation of the construction hoarding is planned to start in the fall of 2019.
The working group was presented with three hoarding options for consideration.
The working group recommendation is a hoarding design that reflects the architecture of Centre Block, displaying images and interpretive text about the project and Parliament for visitors. This would be maintained over the lifespan of the rehabilitation project.
This option provides a cost-effective fencing for the construction site and a visitor experience while the Centre Block is rehabilitated.
The recommendations before you today from our working group are, first, to proceed with the excavation contracting strategy for phase 2 of the visitor welcome centre that includes the baseline of a 22,000-square-metre NET underground expansion of Centre Block, with options that allow for the contract to be scalable down or up, depending on decisions with respect to actual requirements.
The working group also recommends proceeding with hoarding on the front lawn with large monochromatic photos or illustrative drawings on the front face and with ornamental black fencing for the remainder of the perimeter.
Joining me and Ms. Block at the table here today are some of the appropriate people from the various departments working on this project.
Ms. Block, do you have anything you want to add?
View Kelly Block Profile
CPC (SK)
No, just that if there are any questions, I think we'd be happy to answer them.
View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
This is going to be a bit of a work in progress as we figure out.... We don't want to duplicate your work. You've obviously been assigned to these tasks to represent all of our interests.
Obviously, decisions were made previously regarding the new visitor welcome centre. I wasn't a part of those boards and I haven't seen those documents. I don't know how close to scale the site plan is and I imagine it's not designed to be that way, so could you perhaps explain something for my benefit?
The current visitor and parliamentary business entrance obviously deals only with the House side at this time. However, it looks as if that is.... What is the current footprint of the temporary, if we want to call it that, visitor welcome centre? What additional functions will it be performing to merit 22,000 square metres, up or down, inside? I should have been paying more attention to the fact that this one downstairs here was a temporary structure, and the new one looks quite a lot larger than what we have now.
Explain it to me very quickly. Is there more under there than just the welcome centre, and that's just what it's being called? Do we really need something that's 10 times bigger than what we have now?
Rob Wright
View Rob Wright Profile
Rob Wright
2019-06-13 12:18
Phase 1—and there are phase 1 and phase 2—is approximately 5,000 square metres, so it is about a quarter of the size of what is recommended to proceed with today. That really services the West Block as a visitor welcome centre. It is a permanent facility, not a temporary facility. Phase 1 will be extended with phase 2, which will serve, in addition to the West Block, the Centre Block and the East Block, creating in essence one integrated parliamentary complex with this visitor welcome centre beneath the great lawn.
Phase 2 of the visitor welcome centre would provide the same services that phase 1 does, including security screening first and foremost, as well as some visitor services and some support functions related to the operations of the House. The visitor welcome centre would provide those services for Centre Block and East Block, as well as some expanded visitor experience for individuals visiting the Hill.
At this point, with part of Centre Block being emptied—the Library of Parliament tracks the statistics—75% of people trying to visit Centre Block were not able to because of volume, essentially management. The visitor welcome centre would provide expanded facilities for Canadians and international visitors visiting the Hill, enabling them to have an experience with our Parliament.
The security functions are a core requirement of this facility. As well, one of the things that I think we've reported to a number of committees now is that modernizing Centre Block will mean displacing about 2,500 square metres of space within the facility. Just as an example, there was a 14-fold increase in the space required for mechanical operation of the building. Putting in new elevator shafts, for example, and additional washrooms and mechanical shafts will take up space in the facility. As you would know better than I, Centre Block does not have a lot of this modern functionality.
The last piece is that there is also the opportunity for the visitor welcome centre to absorb some of those displaced functions from Centre Block. Some of the core support functions could go to the visitor welcome centre.
With this strategy that's being proposed, those decisions don't need to be taken today. This is an excavation strategy that can be brought down or up depending on the requirements of Parliament as we proceed.
Michel Patrice
View Michel Patrice Profile
Michel Patrice
2019-06-13 12:21
If I may, I would add something from the discussion at the working group right now. What Rob has been mentioning thus far has been on the proposed visitor welcome centre as proposed in the past, but the working group asked a very good question in terms of whether we really need all those functions and whether we need to build a visitor welcome centre as it is currently being entertained.
Right now what is before the working group is what I will call a wish list of requirements. These requirements need to be assessed and validated, and that was a discussion for the working group. What has been clear to the working group is the need for machinery and equipment to modernize the Centre Block—which represents, I believe, about 10,000 square metres—and also for connectivity between the buildings in terms of the handling of goods and materials.
The working group said to keep the momentum and to allow the digging for at least those basic requirements needed for the modernization of the Centre Block to proceed and to not lose the momentum over the project. After the election, the working group will turn its attention to the different requirements expressed by the partners and also take into consideration how phase 1 of the visitor welcome centre can be repurposed. That will be left for post-election review.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Ms. Sgro and Ms. Block, thank you for your statements.
I want to be very clear about what is coming before the BOIE right now. We're not approving the visitor centre—and I don't think there is even consensus about moving to a visitor centre—but the excavation contract is something we're proposing be tendered for now, to begin in January 2020.
A ballpark figure of 22,000 square metres allows the BOIE, after the election, to either scale up if the decision is to add the visitor centre—and I think there will be a time and a place to discuss and debate that—or scale down to the minimum requirements, which Mr. Patrice and Mr. Wright have indicated are part of the essential elements of supplying the mechanical updates to the Centre Block. That would be 12,500 square metres.
The scalability, I think, is very important to all three of us. A decision should not be taken around the visitors' centre now. The excavation contract allows us to scale down to the essentials, or, if a future BOIE decides to go with the visitor centre, to scale up to the ultimate size, which would be about 33,000 square metres.
The excavation contract does not block us in and is not a decision to move ahead with the visitor centre. It is not. I feel pretty strongly about that. It's not a decision we should be making just a few weeks prior to a general election. The BOIE and the committee coming out of the election can then have that debate and discussion, and decide whether that excavation contract is scaled down to the essentials—12,500 square metres—or scaled up to another concept.
I'm comfortable with recommending the excavation contract and moving ahead with it, with the caveat that the BOIE can decide that we just keep to the essentials in the new year.
View Geoff Regan Profile
Lib. (NS)
Before I go to Ms. Block, this is listed on the agenda as an update. To what degree are you looking for a decision from the board?
Ms. Block had her hand up.
View Kelly Block Profile
CPC (SK)
Thank you, Mr. Chair. I appreciate your question, and it probably raises for me other questions I have about our role as a working group. I don't think it's for us to determine or suggest the decisions that this board needs to take on this question, but I wanted to concur with what my colleague has presented to you in regard to the things we deliberated on. I would just add that the option we are favouring is the second of three. There was an option to go with a smaller square footage, and also a larger one. We took the middle-of-the-road approach, knowing that there was the scalability that my colleague commented on.
I would also like to put on the record that I personally leaned heavily toward supporting the recommendation coming forward on what had been done by previous boards in regard to establishing this concept of a visitor welcome centre. I did not feel, as a member of a working group that's here to provide suggestions to decision-making bodies, that I would be willing to undo the work that had been done over the previous 20 years.
View Geoff Regan Profile
Lib. (NS)
Thank you.
We will go to Mr. Julian and then Ms. Bergen.
Wait, it's Monsieur Rodriguez. Let's not be confused about that.
I apologize.
View Pablo Rodriguez Profile
Lib. (QC)
Thank you very much.
First of all, it says here that about half of the front lawn will remain in place to allow public access and activities during the project. Obviously, the upcoming Canada Day celebrations will be the last to be held on the Hill for a while - you are all invited to come, by the way - because they take up a lot of space.
It seems that we will still be able to hold activities in the remaining space. How many people, approximately, can this space accommodate? What type of activities will be possible?
Rob Wright
View Rob Wright Profile
Rob Wright
2019-06-13 12:28
I will ask my colleague Ms. Garrett to give you more details.
We are working closely with our partner Canadian Heritage to ensure that all activities can continue to be held there. This is a key objective of this work and the basis of our partnership model.
Jennifer Garrett
View Jennifer Garrett Profile
Jennifer Garrett
2019-06-13 12:29
As some further detail, there has been a significant amount of effort to coordinate across both legislative and executive branches of government to make sure it's as much as possible a very positive visitor experience and business as usual.
To give you a couple of examples, we've been coordinating with the Department of National Defence, and they have confirmed that the Changing of the Guard, for example, will continue on the Hill. We have coordinated with our construction manager to make sure, to the extent we can, that the flag will continue to fly over the Peace Tower, and even with a view of continuing the program of yoga on the Hill.
Every ceremony that we are aware of and all possible activities have been fully coordinated. We have a summary of the current plans with regard to what is going to be happening with those events. I would say in general that nothing has been unduly affected. It's able to operate within the smaller footprint of the front lawn.
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