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Susan Kulba
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Susan Kulba
2020-02-27 11:31
Thank you, Jennifer.
The House of Commons chamber is one of the most significant spaces in the Centre Block. It's where Parliament resides, it's where you work. It holds symbolic and traditional significance to Canada, and it's one of the most recognized spaces within the building. It's one of the key elements that will require some consultation.
The House has been working with PSPC and design consultants over the break to do our homework, notably with respect to the chamber galleries and lobby, so that we could be well prepared to engage and start the conversation with parliamentarians about these spaces. The chamber requires change. We need to consider the long-term use and the investment and focus on what kind of change and how best to achieve it.
Our approach was to start with basic information on the existing chamber, the Fair Representation Act, and feedback we have received to date from parliamentarians, including PROC. There are a number of common trends from members so far.
In doing our homework, we have considered the Fair Representation Act, which came into effect in 2015, and it indicates that the average demographic projections would put the MP count at about 460 in roughly 50 years from now. By the time we return to Centre Block, the projections could put the number of MPs in a range of 350 to 370.
Knowing that the growth will need to be accommodated for future parliaments, there are a number of considerations to help achieve that. We could change the seating and the furniture; we could adjust procedures to be more flexible; and/or we could increase the size of the chamber.
These considerations emphasize the tension between space, functionality, accessibility and heritage. Key decisions regarding the chamber are required early in the project and during schematic design, because this direction will impact the structural design, which comes first.
We will also need to consider many of the elements in terms of life safety. They don't currently meet code, and we need to take all that into account while we're considering other factors.
There will need to be interventions to the heritage fabric of these spaces to accommodate the many requirements. What will be important is how we do that. We need to do it in an appropriate manner. We need to do it respectfully and in a complementary way to the original Pearson design while building a new layer of lasting heritage relevant to your time in Parliament and the history of the building. To do that successfully, we need to have great consultation with parliamentarians.
Given the challenge of addressing all those issues, we have undertaken studies on the chamber with all that basic information, and we have developed options to demonstrate the range of possibilities. Those options are at a conceptual level, but we would like to engage further with in-depth consultations to develop the direction on which way to proceed.
As mentioned earlier, the visitor welcome centre had preliminary approval by the board for a scalable size so that Public Works could continue with the project, but we still need to come back and work on the functional requirements with the House of Commons, the Senate, the Library of Parliament and PPS.
The building is a welcome centre and is an important element for security and interconnection of the buildings on the Hill, which all work together to accommodate the key functions of Parliament.
Over the break, the parliamentary partners continued to work with PSPC on two key elements of the visitor welcome centre: first, to refine the functional requirements and further develop the three options for consideration and in-depth consultation, and the final program requirements to determine the final size; second, to study the entrance design strategy to ensure that the visitor welcome centre phase 2 works in concert with the existing buildings and key entrances, which will remain in Centre Block, and to focus on providing secure and efficient entry for parliamentarians, business visitors and the public while meeting the operational functionality and considering intervention in the heritage landscape.
We will be seeking input from parliamentarians on the review of the public entrance and your requirements for meeting and greeting constituents in the visitor welcome centre. We will be discussing in depth the advantages and disadvantages of each to ensure that the most suitable option is pursued for further development in the schematic design.
Thank you.
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