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Rob Wright
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Rob Wright
2022-06-23 12:22
Thank you very much for the questions, Mr. Chair.
It's important to note that the initial tunnels that are mentioned had to be disassembled for the Centre Block and Parliament welcome centre project, so those tunnels that connected the old Centre Block to the old West Block and the East Block have been disassembled.
But you are quite right. As part of constructing the West Block, a tunnel infrastructure was put in place, and it was put in place with this forward path envisioned.
If we go back to 2017, Parliament and the government endorsed the concept of this tunnel infrastructure, so that was put in place with what we're talking about today in view. The cost of that tunnel infrastructure, phase one of the visitor welcome centre, was $129 million. That permanent infrastructure will connect into the Parliament welcome centre and will essentially enable this connection point for tunnel W, so it's going to be used not only for the current vocation of the West Block but also for the permanent vision for the operations of Parliament.
On the second question, around material management, if the tunnels did not proceed, we would have to go back, essentially, to the drawing board, on a strategy for material management. That would probably lead us to going back to the traditional approach of having a loading dock on each individual building. Those would have to be designed in and constructed. They are currently not designed for the Centre Block, for example—and not planned for block two, or the future.
I don't have a cost estimate for you today on that, but there would be a significant cost of putting in place that infrastructure for material management. There would also be an important cost, from an operational perspective, for the House of Commons and the Senate to operate that from a building-by-building perspective rather than from a more centralized one.
The last thing I'll mention is that a large part of this really is about creating an enhanced security posture for the parliamentary precinct, a more secure perimeter. As soon as each and every building has to have an individual loading dock, you're bringing large trucks into each and every building, which would be something the Parliamentary Protective Service would have to consider if that were to be the path forward.
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