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Rob Wright
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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.
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