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View Bruce Stanton Profile
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
As chair of the long-term vision and plan working group, I am here today to update the board on our work from the last working group meetings and our recent meeting with the Senate LTVP subcommittee, and to seek endorsement of our recommendations regarding the proposed approach for the tarping of Centre Block, the construction site hoarding interpretive panels, and the PSPC public engagement strategy.
PSPC presented us with various options for the tarping of Centre Block. While Centre Block undergoes its rehabilitation, the construction work will be happening from basement to roof, inside and out, and access to all areas will be required for the work. General access will be provided by installing scaffolding all around the building, and, along with the access it provides, this will also assist in the restoration of the masonry on the building facades.
As part of the masonry work, there needs to be protection from the elements and cold weather. The tarps on the scaffolding provide that protection, as well as enclosing the scaffolding for various other reasons. This is typical on most construction sites, as you have seen most recently on West Block, and can presently see on East Block, where it is enclosed with white tarps for the duration of the rehabilitation.
The white tarping tends to be quite obvious and somewhat unattractive, especially in such an iconic location as Parliament Hill. What has become more common around the world, to enhance the visitor experience and general image of iconic heritage buildings while undergoing construction, is to print images of the hidden building on the tarp—essentially a trompe l'oeil, an optical illusion of sorts. It provides the continuity of experiencing the sense of place with a replica of the building facade.
The working group was presented with three approaches to Centre Block in this respect. First was to colour the tarps on all four facades to match the colour of existing stone, if you will—a sand colour. You can see it in the upper right-hand corner of the slide. A second option was a front facade trompe l'oeil over the south facade facing Wellington Street and all of the other three walls in the stone sand colour. Finally, a third option was a trompe l'oeil on all four facades.
The working group deliberated on the merits of all three options. We also received letters from mayors of Ottawa and Gatineau and the National Capital Commission strongly encouraging Parliament to support a trompe l'oeil on all four facades in order to maintain a positive visitor experience.
We believe that a responsible approach is to recommend that all facades receive the trompe l'oeil images of Centre Block.
The tarps will be used for the full duration of the project and are estimated by PSPC to cost in the neighbourhood of $3.8 million. This will preserve the iconic image of Centre Block for all who visit, both for Ottawa and Gatineau, and enhance the tourist experience of Parliament over the course of its rehabilitation.
In June 2019, parliamentarians endorsed the approach to construct hoarding on the Hill for the renovation of the Parliament Building. The proposal comprised panels with large monochromatic photos interspersed with interpretive panels and wayfinding to be installed across the parliamentary lawn. Once the interpretive content was developed, it was expected that PSPC would return to seek final approval on the panels.
The working group was presented with fully developed detailed information for the bilingual interpretive panels, as well as images. The panels will convey information under the following themes: Parliamentary theme; centre block rehabilitation theme; Parliament Hill timeline and gathering place theme; indigenous theme; wayfinding theme.
With the exception of the indigenous-themed panels, which still require wider consultation, the WG supports the approval of the other panels, which we believe are appropriate and informative. A full-scale mock-up of the panels is currently on site to allow for review. We recommend that the board endorse the construction hoarding panel proposal so that PSPC can proceed to make and install the interpretive hoarding this summer.
PSPC also presented its approach to public engagement for the Centre Block project and the LTVP. The WG reviewed the detailed information provided and recommends that the board endorse the proposed public survey and plan that PSPC has developed.
At our meeting of March 12, we were provided with a progress update on the entrance sequence design for the Parliament welcome centre. The members of the independent design review panel attended to advise and answer questions. The working group fully supported the direction of the design and made note of the areas for further development. The working group is pleased with the progress and excited about the design concepts we have seen.
Further to the meeting, the working group has agreed that consultation with the Senate would be appropriate on the proposed Centre Block infill options. A joint meeting of the House of Commons working group and the Senate LTVP subcommittee took place on April 7, 2021, during which we had a fulsome discussion on the potential infill above the Hall of Honour. The glazed roof enclosure of the light court above that Hall of Honour provides an opportunity to create new space above the Hall of Honour on three floors. The enclosed light court will also assist in achieving project goals on sustainability and accessibility. There was general consensus for the new space on the sixth-floor level of that infill to be used for shared parliamentarian space.
On May 28 we met a second time with the Senate LTVP to consider food services and the placement of the cafeteria, as well as a potential café for the public in the Parliament welcome centre. We also discussed the possible uses of the fourth and fifth floor of the infill. We agreed to continue these discussions at our next joint meeting, where we will look at more detailed schematic designs for each of the fourth and fifth floors.
The working group has been very engaged in a detailed review of the issues and proposed schematic design approach for Centre Block and the new welcome centre. As you can see by the slides, the progress around the excavation continues in a fulsome way. We continue to be confident that parliamentarians' requirements are being taken into consideration. We are being kept abreast of issues and site construction work. We are very pleased with the progress and the opportunity to be involved in this project. The working group anticipates another meeting later this month. I will return to provide another update, as appropriate.
One further item to update you on is the progress on the Block 2 architectural design competition. Block 2, you will remember, is situated just across from the main lawn of the Commons, across Wellington, essentially between Metcalfe on one end and O'Connor on the other, and bordered by Sparks Street and Wellington.
As you may remember, I was tasked with representing the House of Commons as part of the parliamentary portion of the competition jury. I am joined by Mr. MacKinnon, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Services and Procurement, and also Senator Plett, who represents the Senate of Canada. All of us are parliamentary jurors. Recent activities included closing the PSPC request for qualifications on this project on March 2, 2021, with 38 respondents submitting their candidacy to be considered for the Block 2 competition.
The competitors are world-class design firms, including a diverse range of Canadian firms and other consortiums from around the world. From the 38 submissions, PSPC narrowed the participants down to 12, and that's based on the competition criteria. An announcement on the 12 successful competitors will be forthcoming, likely later this month.
The first jury colloquium was held virtually on April 16, and I had the pleasure of meeting the other 26 jurors. I'm impressed with the diversity and calibre of the jurors. This is a very accomplished group of professionals with a range of design and technical expertise. The objective of the first colloquium was to meet and understand the procedure and rules of the competition and the role of the jury, to elect a jury chair, and to review and endorse the competition brief.
The chair is Bruce Haden, an architect and urban designer from Vancouver, nominated by the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada and supported by the jury. The vice-chair is Anne McIlroy, an architect and urban designer from Toronto.
The competition brief is the central document that will be provided to the 12 proponents, and it is, essentially, a complete and thorough description of the project and our expectations for the design. It describes the site, the constraints and opportunities, and most importantly, the requirements. The jury chair has been actively working with PSPC, and the jury and will be endorsing the final edits to that competition brief. I understand that part has now been completed. The final version will be out to the 12 selected competitors in due course.
The next step for the jury will be a three-day workshop in September this year, when we will evaluate the design concepts submitted by the 12 participating competitors. The jury will be supported by a team of technical experts, including from the House of Commons administration. Of those 12, the jury will choose six short-listed participants who will proceed to stage two of the competition.
The final design proposals for stage 2 are expected in spring 2022. Thank you.
I am happy to take questions or elaborate on any of the information provided.
View Bruce Stanton Profile
Thank you, Mr Julian. I also thank you for your kind words.
The first option, which is to install neutral or sand-coloured tarps to blend in with the environment, would cost about $1.5 million. The second option, which is to use a trompe l'oeil for the south facade, which faces Wellington Street, would cost about $2.6 million. As for the third option, you already know the costs. There was a $1.2-million difference between options 2 and 3.
View Bruce Stanton Profile
Thank you, Mr. Richards.
To your first point with respect to the discussions, and to Mr. Julian as well, you have each summarized the very things that the working group discussed with respect to the trompe l'oeil, the notion that this is first and foremost for the incredible number of visitors who come not just to Ottawa but to Gatineau. This was strongly reinforced by the mayors, and the NCC was very clear on that. I think it was a persuasive argument and you have summarized it well.
On the other point, with respect to the working group on the House of Commons side, we are partners. The two chambers share responsibility for parliamentarians' input into the renovation plan. We have had two very constructive and excellent meetings. As soon as we can organize it, we will have another meeting to continue those discussions on the items I mentioned.
Clearly, for the final decision on points where there is disagreement, we are also of the view that the Minister of Public Services and Procurement, can and will, as you have seen this week, relay her concerns with respect to some of these issues.
Our working group won't necessarily be taking up that discussion, but I am sure that a number of those concerns will be topics of discussion between Minister Anand and our counterparts on the Senate side. We will continue to work co-operatively and constructively with them and to share our views on some of these issues candidly, as we have and will continue to do. Ultimately, however, the minister will take up those considerations.
View Bruce Stanton Profile
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Good morning, colleagues.
As you know, I'm reporting here today as the chair of the long-term vision plan working group. I'm joined here again by officials who are on this project on a daily basis. We have Susan Kulba, with digital services and real property section here in Parliament; and Rob Wright and Jennifer Garrett from PSPC.
To update you on essentially two main points that arose out of our meeting on February 5, the first is to share some costing information that has been shared with the working group from PSPC, and, secondly, to put in front of you our recommendation for a concept design option for the main entry to the Parliament welcome centre.
Before we go to those, I want to give you a few little photos of a presentation on the progress of construction, which continues to move along well and remains on track with respect to all of the project plans.
On the first item, PSPC presented their approach to establishing a full costing for the Centre Block project. They outlined the key project decisions that have been made so far that have impacted the overall costs, including preserving the existing size or footprint of the House of Commons, for example, the size of the Parliament welcome centre, and things like the proposed use of the existing light courts and light wells.
To build on this, they went on to itemize some of the remaining decisions that will further add to the accuracy and overall costing of the project.
To give you an idea of where the project is currently, in terms of expenditures relative to budget, the initial allocation for Centre Block was $655 million. This was for the five-year period, fiscal 2017-18 through until fiscal 2021-22. To date, $150 million of that $655 million has been spent, and that has been used to enable the design and construction activities, including interior demolition work and the abatement of hazardous materials.
With regard to the second part of that budget relating to the Parliament welcome centre, an initial budget of $106 million was allocated, again for the same five-year period, 2017-18 through to 2021-22, the next fiscal year. To date, out of that $106 million, $35 million has been spent, and that's been used to essentially complete all of the design elements as well as to begin the excavation activities.
As a final note on the cost side of this equation, decisions have been taken that have helped to put some precision around these costs. I point to a decision, first of all early on, when, as an example, the House of Commons chamber was established with a decision not to make it any bigger than it currently is—to keep the existing footprint. That essentially avoided a cost of an extra $100 million, had we chosen to expand it.
Secondly, on the Parliament welcome centre, you will recall that we opted for the medium-size approach to the welcome centre, and that was $120 million less than had we gone for the larger welcome centre.
Public Services and Procurement Canada, or PSPC, will stay in touch with its parliamentary partners to make the other important decisions this spring. Turner & Townsend will complete the construction cost estimates and benchmarking reports, after which we will have more information for you.
We also received an update from Centrus, the architectural firm responsible for the Centre Block, on its work since the fall to refine the access strategy for the Parliament welcome centre.
Indeed, you may recall that we have used an independent design review panel, or IDRP, to provide advice during the development of this important part of the project. This committee is comprised of reputable professionals in the design community who have experience with issues related to the project.
It was created last fall by PSPC, with the support of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada, to provide an independent assessment of the main entry project. This entry and its location are extremely sensitive from a heritage perspective and given their potential impact on the front lawn of Parliament.
After considering the review panel's concerns and suggestions, Centrus officials presented us with various options for the central entry, and then indicated which one they preferred and which received unanimous consent from the panel members. They liked the simplicity and elegance of this option and the way it mitigates the impact on the heritage elements surrounding it.
The preferred option locates an entrance on either side of the central stair. You'll see before you on slide 4 a plan view of what we mean, with an added pathway on each side departing from the central walkway as you approach the central stairs, each leading directly to each new entrance.
The geometry of the paths themselves is drawn from the existing geometry. You'll see that the pathways, the symmetry or the geometry, if you will, of the paths on either side of the walkway very much mirror the approach taken by the Pearson-designed entrances under the Peace Tower.
Some advantages of these entrances are the fact that they're visible. Each of them will be visible from the central walkway, so it's an intuitive and easily understood pathway for visitors who have never been to the Hill before. It's a gentle slope towards the new entrances, so these will be ramps that help improve accessibility and will not require handrails. Thirdly, the entrance design is simple and is accomplished with as little intervention into the heritage features and materials as possible. There's minimal impact on the use of the lawn that is enjoyed by so many for activities throughout the year.
We as a working group had the opportunity to ask questions and have a discussion with the IDRP to understand and explore the design that they had presented, and we are satisfied and believe that the proposed option responds to any concerns as to how the entrance might interfere with or encroach upon the front lawn and that it meets the operational requirements of the Parliament welcome centre.
Based on the merits of the proposed option, the working group recommends that your board endorse this design option for the central entry to the welcome centre.
I'll welcome any questions or suggestions the board may have on those concept options.
Our next steps will be to review the key elements of the decisions advocated by PSPC in order to establish the basic costing. After reviewing each of these key elements, we will make recommendations and seek your advice.
We will also be meeting with our Senate colleagues in the coming weeks to discuss the proposal to fill the skylights in the Centre and East Blocks, and we will inform you of the outcome of our discussions.
I thank you for your attention, and I'm happy to take any questions that you may have.
View Bruce Stanton Profile
That's great. Thank you very much.
View Bruce Stanton Profile
Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.
View Bruce Stanton Profile
Good morning.
Thank you, Mr. Chair. I'm delighted to be here today.
I'm joined by Susan Kulba, who is the DG and chief executive architect on the House administration side, as well as Rob Wright, assistant deputy minister with PSPC for the science and parliamentary infrastructure branch.
I'm here today as the chair of the LTVP working group, to update the board on our work since our last meeting, and will be seeking your support for the design direction regarding four areas: the lobbies, the galleries, the west light court, the west foyer light well, and a potential increase in space in the centre light court.
I'll also update you on two subjects regarding the independent design review panel and the issue of outreach to parliamentarians. I'll comment briefly on those last two items first.
On October 28, we discussed a plan for the engagement with our working group and the independent design review panel, IDRP, regarding the entrance to the Parliament welcome centre.
The IDRP is an eminent group of Canadian architects with extensive experience on projects of this nature. The working group had an opportunity to meet with them by Zoom on November 6, and we found their expert advice to be informative, helpful and consistent with the working group's opinion on things like the entrance design and retention of the front lawn and the Vaux wall.
We conveyed the importance of the House of Commons as a complex functioning workplace for parliamentarians, which also greets hundreds of visitors and guests daily and serves as one of Canada's most iconic heritage buildings.
We think the panel benefited from their meeting with us, and it will contribute to the panel's discussions and advice to PSPC in the time ahead.
Secondly, at our last meeting of November 27, we reviewed several means by which parliamentarians could become more involved and informed on the pace of work in Centre Block and even some possible areas where the working group could invite direct input, before interior formats and designs are finalized.
We anticipate that parliamentarians could be informed using various communications tools— video conferences, in-person meetings when they become possible again, website presence and video, as well as through the Speaker's regular newsletters. We believe that a project of this importance, not only to this cohort of parliamentarians, but to future ones, would benefit from direct input from the people who are at the centre of this large, complex workplace and centrepiece of Canada's system of government.
Turning to the four design recommendations, I would like to now discuss the lobbies, galleries and ideas for the existing light courts.
As you all know, the government and opposition lobbies are an important space for parliamentarians. It's where we conduct our parliamentary work, meet with colleagues, and where members will usually spend at least one ten-hour sitting day per week, and occasionally much longer. It's also the gathering place for votes and question period every day, all the while being close to our whip's and House leader's team and available at a moment's notice for duty in the House.
We've seen that this space was often overcrowded, and that's before the expected growth in MP numbers over the coming five decades, when these important spaces will be under even greater pressure. So, in finding ways to address the space pressure on the lobbies, the working group was presented with, and agrees with, a plan to expand the lobbies across two floors and parts of an adjacent courtyard.
This page shows a proposed plan for both floors. The second floor exists now. More space will be added on the ground floor.
The plan will keep the lobbies at the chamber level, but expanded vertically, to the ground floor, by adding a space at least as large as the current 2nd floor lobbies, with independent stair and elevator access for the level below.
The plan also includes expanded accessible washroom space. The image shows, in the centre of the plan to the left on the ground floor, that the washrooms are between the two lobbies and are exclusively for the use of parliamentarians and ground floor lobby staff.
In relation to the lobbies, we recommend for the board's consideration a design for both the government and opposition lobbies that includes additional support space located on the ground floor and adjacent courtyard, with dedicated vertical circulation for both.
Going to the galleries, on our meeting of October 28, the House presented us with a proposed design approach for the Centre Block galleries for our review and questions. You'll see the designs. On the left are the existing galleries on the third floor, and on the right is the proposal.
We recognize that the Centre Block galleries needed to be modified to become more accessible. The current physical design is well short of national building code standards for accessibility. In fact, prior to the closure of the building there was minimal accessibility. Meeting code and accessibility standards will result in a reduction of seating capacity in the galleries from 553 seats to 296.
The working group had a really good discussion regarding the average public attendance in the galleries over the periods of time that we experienced them, the extra demand during school visits and special addresses, and comparisons with comparable parliaments and legislative assemblies.
We asked the administration to investigate the possibility of using some flexible space in those galleries so that the design of the seating would permit a scaling-up, if you will, under those special circumstances, while assuring that it meets national building code standards. In relation to the galleries, we agreed to recommend that the board endorse the proposal of a design that complies with national building code requirements for accessibility, recognizing that there will be a significant reduction of available seating and that the architects be instructed to consider flexible solutions to accommodate more visitors.
That's the second item. Now we'll move on to the west light court and the west foyer light-well.
At our November 27 meeting we agreed on a conceptual design approach and strategy for the west light court. That's what you see in front of you now. That is an image of the west light court looking south. You would see the outer wall of the House of Commons on your right, with the stained glass windows, and then the lower levels as that area or space is closed in.
The primary purpose of the light courts is to bring natural light and ventilation to interior spaces not located on an exterior facade. This is an important part of the architectural and heritage character of Centre Block. We were informed that closing in the light courts at the roof level will provide significant improvements on energy performance for the building. The proposed design would convert the larger west light court into an open, light-filled space that would provide public access to the galleries, and where visitors to the chamber could circulate between level B1—that's the main level of the Parliament welcome centre—and levels two and three in Centre Block.
It would greatly improve the circulation of the public within Centre Block, but importantly, it keeps the original architecture of Centre Block intact. It also allows the light court to continue to bring natural daylight to the chamber and other interior spaces.
There's an additional light court on the west side. It's proposed that a new glass enclosure cover what's called the west light-well. This is right above the House of Commons foyer, essentially to provide natural light in the foyer area. This would effectively restore natural light to that area, intended as part of the Beaux-Arts planning for the foyer in the original structure. You will recall that there's a beautiful heritage glass laylight in the foyer ceiling. Currently, that whole light-well is closed in, due to damage and leaking, and so on, many decades ago. The idea would be to put a covering over it that would allow natural light to be restored to that light-well.
Accordingly, the working group recommends that the board accept and adopt the proposed design approach for both the west light court, the larger one, and the west foyer light-well.
The fourth and final item is the centre light court. This is a much bigger space. In the sectional view of Centre Block, I'd draw your attention to the purple area in the middle. The centre light court spans a much wider space, and in particular, the area above the roof of the Hall of Honour. If you were going down one of the interior hallways in Centre Block on the fourth or fifth floor and looked out towards the centre light court, you would see the roof over the Hall of Honour at the third level. The idea would be to add additional floors on top of that roof that would extend right to the top on floors four, five and six, and then, of course, join the north and south hallways in Centre Block on each of those floors.
We think it's an excellent opportunity to infill the space in Centre Block to add much-needed space for parliamentarians. Up to 600 square metres of space would be added to the functioning interior space and it would be done in such a way as to not interfere or reduce in any way the natural light that comes into the building. Also, of course, as mentioned earlier, by capping over the light court and still allowing natural light, it will permit much better energy efficiency for the building.
It should be noted as well that none of this infill would do anything to interrupt the features or construction of the Hall of Honour. It would all occur above that level.
We therefore recommend to the board that the proposed infill approach be endorsed for the centre light court with the expectation that conservation principles will be respected, and of course, the working group will return to you at a later time to discuss some options for the use of that interior space.
Overall, I'd like to congratulate all the members of the working group and all the parties for their contribution to the work. I realize that it's important for MPs to be involved in the project.
Finally, I would like to point out that the working group plans to hold another meeting early next year. I'd be happy over the coming months to come back with further updates as our work progresses.
Thank you for your attention. I'd be happy to answer any questions you may have or to provide more details on any of the points discussed.
View Bruce Stanton Profile
Mr. Julian, as usual, you have covered all the bases here, and I'll do my best to take them one at a time.
On the centre light court additional infill of those three floors, we did look at very preliminary options as to what that would add. That is one of the things I think we would like to come back to the board with. Potentially, I don't mind saying, this would be one area where, in reference to, say, consultations with parliamentarians, it would be something that we could chat with them about as well.
We're far from a decision as to what that interior format would need to look like, but as an example, one could anticipate that on floors four and five you could add up to, say, three different office suites on each floor, an additional six offices in there. Members should know that across the entirety of Centre Block the number of offices available will be reduced for a number of reasons, so it gives an ability to sort of catch up on some of that.
The sixth floor we believe, because it will be at the top of the building, affords the possibility—and again, not finalized—of creating a space for parliamentarians to gather. Senators and members will know that there are opportunities for that. We will get back to you with that and, again, it could be the subject of some consultation.
With regard to the galleries, Mr. Julian, your concerns were shared among the working group, real concerns with the overall reduction in the number of seats in the gallery. When we looked at actual attendance in the gallery outside of question period and special events, we all know as parliamentarians that, for the most part, the 553 seats were well above what was needed.
You're right, at certain special times of the year and certainly for an address to a joint chamber, senators and parliamentarians, when you need a full gallery.... That is why the working group suggested this as an example. If you look at the east and west interior walls, you'll see in the galleries' design—opposition, government lobbies and the Speaker's gallery—that some of those spaces protrude inward into the chamber. Those would be the locations for accessible seating. There will be occasions during those special addresses, as an example, where not all of that accessible seating will be needed. Similarly, perhaps in the north gallery, the design of seating could be done in such a way that it could, as we suggest, be flexible or scale up to accommodate more persons and still meet national building code standards.
We've asked the House administration and PSPC to come back to us, in this case, the House. I think Susan's team would come back to us with some suggestions. Sure enough, we'll have fixed seating and meet all the code for 296, but maybe there's a way some of that seating could be designed so that we could scale up to some standing room or some other means to accommodate more people on those special occasions.
Finally, we'll say that the 296, relative to the number of members who are in the House, is relatively consistent with the other chambers and legislatures that we looked at as well, comparing the number of members to the number of seats in the gallery.
In terms of lobby access and the idea of having an expanded lobby area on the lower floor, you all know that essentially what's on the second floor now where the lobbies are situated will effectively stay the same, with the exception of the area that protrudes into the light court on the right-hand side. There's a little bit of expansion there that will permit elevator access, for example, and other stair access for the opposition lobby side. On the lower floor you'll effectively have a space equal in size to the second floor, and each of those sides, both the opposition and government side, will have their own independent stairway and elevator so that members attending the lobby during the day can move up and down freely, and it would be fully accessible.
We appreciate that it will create some potential issues around keeping members connected to their whips and leadership teams while they are there. However, considering the number of MPs that the House will need to accommodate in the usual proportions over the next 50 years, if the same formula is kept in place—we're already under space pressures now—it's only going to get worse down the road.
Finally, on the cost differentiations on the light court proposals, I'm going to ask Rob to comment on that.
View Bruce Stanton Profile
Indeed, there is. You may know that there is a working group much like ours on the House side that is getting constituted this month to deal with these issues as well. There is an east light court as well that is primarily surrounded by the Senate offices, but it's worth noting that there are House of Commons offices that typically face onto that light court as well. That's the subject of some discussion right now. It has not been finalized as of yet, but we are in the midst of discussions with the Senate working group to meet with them, hopefully in the new year.
View Bruce Stanton Profile
We're looking at finding a way to certainly get agreement on what is done there, but I think that, overall, the core objectives are around ensuring that we are maintaining the heritage objectives and keeping the architectural integrity of this amazing building in place.
Yes, we can modernize it and make it better from an energy efficiency point of view, but we're going to do all we can to make sure that we walk that line between an incredibly complex and busy operating workplace and, at the same time, maintaining that integrity and keeping the character of the interior services and spaces in such a way that it retains those remarkable features for generations to come.
View Bruce Stanton Profile
For the Parliament welcome centre, we did adopt an approach there that will have the main entrance for Parliament, if you will, essentially on either side of the main stairs, right in the centre section as you walk towards the Peace Tower, as you approach those main stairs.
The entrance for the public and for others is still somewhat part of a discussion on how we're going to finalize the uses. That's a discussion that's being had, and it's one of the things that the IDRP spoke with us about as well. It's to make sure that, as the public come up there, they'll enter what is essentially the centre point of the whole parliamentary triad, as they say: the East Block, West Block and Centre Block.
On what you will see on the surface, though, as you look from Wellington up towards the Peace Tower, much of that is essentially going to stay the same. The lawn will be the same size. The Vaux wall, that stone wall that originates from the original structure, will be there. Members and senators will still have their own private entrances, as they do now, at grade level, on the east and west ends of the building.
The main public will enter from the sides of the stairs and essentially go slightly downward at that point. The main level, B1, in the Parliament welcome centre is where most of the public will clear security and we'll have those features of the welcome centre there. It's from there that they would proceed. If they were going to the galleries, they would take the elevators up to the third floor from that location.
View Bruce Stanton Profile
If you walk up that main walkway, there's that grand staircase that goes up to the upper level—we'll call it a mezzanine level, almost—that's at grade level with the entrance to the Peace Tower. It's at the base of those main stairs. The left-hand and right-hand sides are where you will go into the welcome centre.
View Bruce Stanton Profile
That's exactly correct. Yes.
Mr. Blake Richards: Okay.
Mr. Bruce Stanton: The fact is that it will be a prominent entrance. Wayfinding was an issue. As people walk up to this grand building, the entrance literally will be right in front of them. The closer they get to the building, they will immediately see that the entrance is welcoming them there.
View Bruce Stanton Profile
Thank you for this relevant question, Mr. Deltell.
The working group took this into consideration. We have not yet had discussions about the details for this space. Over the coming year, we're going to examine options that could accommodate all the MPs.
The schedule for the renovation work shows that it'll be spread over 50 years, from 2018 to 2068. The current number of MPs is 338. By 2060, we expect that there might be as many as 460. We'll find a way to accommodate all MPs in the House of Commons. The Board of Internal Economy has already said that for the time being, it would like to keep the official opposition on the other side of the house.
The best approach would probably be to review the possible options for the future and to present several of these to the board.
View Bruce Stanton Profile
I'd like to ask Ms. Kulba to take this one.
There are several options, but this isn't the time to go into the details.
Ms. Kulba, do you have any comments about this?
View Bruce Stanton Profile
We certainly do.
I'd like to thank you for having visited the Centre Block worksite. In fact, all members of the Board of Internal Economy are welcome to do so.
There have not been many surprises in the course of the renovation work on the Centre Block because we were indeed well prepared.
What was your question?
View Bruce Stanton Profile
I'll ask Mr. Wright to answer your question.
View Bruce Stanton Profile
Thank you very much, Mr. Deltell.
View Bruce Stanton Profile
Thank you very much.
View Bruce Stanton Profile
Good morning, Mr. Chair. Thank you.
Fellow members, good morning.
I'm here today as chair of the working group on the long term vision and plan, or LTVP, to update the board on the work that's been done since our last meeting and to seek endorsement of our recommendation regarding parliamentarians' involvement in the jury for the architectural design competition being organized by Public Services and Procurement Canada, or PSPC, for the redevelopment of Block 2.
Before I discuss the recommendation regarding Block 2, I'd like to provide a brief update on our last meeting, which was held on August 13.
First, PSPC presented its public engagement strategy for the LTVP, encompassing the development and launch of a public survey. The working group is in overall agreement on the proposed strategy to engage Canadians on Parliament and asked PSPC to get back to the group with more detailed information.
Second, the House of Commons administration presented high-level options for the Parliament Welcome Centre entrance and answered questions. Stakeholders will need to review the options in detail, and the working group will continue to be involved in the review before making a recommendation to the board.
Next is the third item we dealt with. We heard from the House with respect to updates and had some schematic designs and proposals for the chamber, lobbies and galleries in Centre Block. PSPC answered some questions around that. There will be further discussions at our next meeting with regard to lobbies and galleries. Once we've had a chance to look at those a little further, we'll be back to the board with some recommendations and something more detailed for you to look at.
As a final point before I get into the issue of Block 2, all members of the working group have now received complete detailed briefings on the schematic designs for the entirety of Centre Block and the welcome centre. We're looking forward to having further discussions on how the parliamentary requirements fit into all that. I would say that after two meetings, we're making some great progress and we're anticipating getting back together later this month. After we see what comes from that, we'll have some further things for you to discuss.
The only real issue on which we need to hear from you today is with respect to a design competition. What's happening here is that the PSPC briefed the working group on their approach to procuring an architectural design consultant team for the Block 2 new buildings, which will accommodate parliamentary space in the future.
Now, you may not know where Block 2 is. We didn't either. That's the space bound by Wellington Street, Sparks Street, Metcalfe Street and O'Connor Street. It's immediately across Wellington Street from Centre Block. Currently in the planning phase for this Block 2, PSPC is proceeding with a competitive process—it's a major undertaking—and launching an architectural design competition for that. It's a competition that will allow them to choose a team that has the right kind of capability and that is appropriate for a project of this scale and significance.
PSPC has also brought in the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada, RAIC, to oversee this competition process. I'm sure their role will be greatly valued. The institute and PSPC will together select an independent qualified professional jury for this competition process. The jury will look at all of the proposals submitted and will come down to first-, second- and third-place proposals. As part of that jury composition, the working group was pitched the idea of having parliamentarian participation in that jury process. We looked at three different scenarios as to how that might work. After some discussion, it was agreed that the working group recommend to you that in relation to this whole process, the chair of the working group—I, in this case—be designated as a juror representing the House of Commons in that jury process.
That's really what you have in front of you today. The idea was to make sure we have continuity with parliamentarian voices through the working group and into that process for Block 2. I'm therefore seeking your approval that in relation to this design competition for Block 2, the chair of the working group be designated as the juror representing the House of Commons.
I would be pleased to answer any questions you have and to provide more details on what I've just discussed.
Thank you.
View Bruce Stanton Profile
Thank you, Mr. Julian.
I think we didn't get into budget elements with respect to Block 2. I will look to Michel Patrice. He may have some insights on it that he could share with us. At this point we were only taken up with the proposals around a design competition. As you may well know, this is part of a much more long-term.... So many of these parts of the long-term vision plan are so integrated that these things do come before us as a working group as well.
Michel, I wonder if you have any further insights that we could share with Mr. Julian on that question.
View Bruce Stanton Profile
Okay, go ahead, Rocque.
View Bruce Stanton Profile
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
I'm sorry that I missed that critical element of Mr. Julian's question pertaining to expenses. My sound actually gapped there for a few seconds. My apologies for not zoning in on the expenses related to Centre Block. It was not to Block 2. My apologies.
View Bruce Stanton Profile
On the last point on security, we didn't deal specifically with that point. I think it's certainly a valid one. We did look at some comparisons in terms of the size of the gallery in relation to the number of members in the chamber, and certainly Canada was blessed as we were in the old House of Commons, in Centre Block House of Commons. We had considerably higher numbers of gallery visitors than many other chambers in the Westminster system.
Going forward, certainly there will likely be impacts there. You're right about one of your three points, exactly right. The current footprint of the chambers in terms of the beautiful Gothic revival design and structure is all going to stay put. We have to work within the confines of that existing footprint.
As we look at accommodating more members, it has to be done in favour of a layout that will be in keeping with this board's direction around.... Of course, the ideal preference was to continue with the centre aisle and have government and opposition members opposing one another across that common aisle. That was a preference that has been expressed to our working group, and we'll certainly keep that in mind.
As to whether we'll have just one recommendation for you, I honestly don't feel comfortable speaking for the working group at this early stage. I'm taking a cue from your comments. I suggest that we might want to consider more than one. I'll certainly be guided by the working group and what we think is probably our best preference, but leave open.... I think this is an area that obviously needs vigorous discussion and consideration. We want to make sure we get this right.
View Bruce Stanton Profile
Thank you, Mr. Deltell. Welcome to the Board of Internal Economy.
All the working group members toured the Centre Block. For the time being, we aren't planning another tour, but I think it's a good idea. We'll look into arranging one for the members of the board, if possible, in the coming weeks or months.
View Bruce Stanton Profile
Once again, thank you, Mr. Chair.
Before I begin, I'd like to thank Francis Drouin, chair of the Canadian Branch of the Assemblée parlementaire de la Francophonie, or APF, for joining me today. He'll be giving a detailed presentation on the request before you to have the Parliament of Canada host the 48th annual session of the APF. I should point out that the Joint Interparliamentary Council, or JIC, examined the proposal at its July 15, 2020 meeting.
As with all of these international conference requests, the Joint Interparliamentary Council, the JIC, is somewhat limited in the role that we have in reviewing these requests for international conferences. For us, it comes down to ensuring that there are no conflicts with the resources that International and Interparliamentary Affairs has in terms of providing the appropriate support. We realize that of course the spending authority for these conferences rests with you, and with CIBA on the Senate side. However, we still take the occasion of these requests—as has come from APF in this case—to discuss some of the issues around that conference.
In this case, we talked about the challenges involved with doing a large-scale event of this nature in the era of the COVID-19 global pandemic. Admittedly, the conference is intended for July of 2022, but nonetheless we have no clear idea as to what conditions may prevail at that time. To that end, we had a discussion and gave direction in terms of the planning for this conference that due to the uncertainties around COVID-19, they be prepared to consider revising the format and to changing the format to a virtual or partially virtual format if they're faced with those kinds of restrictions in 2022.
The council also recommended that the conference planners ensure that things like contracts for hotels, conference space, AV, interpretation and transportation have the appropriate escape clauses for force majeure, exit clauses that will help them have contracts in place that can be modified should those situations prevail.
All of us on the JIC, to a person, stand behind the necessity of ensuring that Canada stays engaged and involved in interparliamentary work, even in a time of pandemic. We also noted—and, members of council, I should note to you—that we were satisfied that the approach APF took to their budget proposals was certainly in line with the usual practices and parameters that JIC considers for conferences of this type.
Therefore, it was agreed that the proposal be submitted to the Board of Internal Economy and the Standing Senate Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration.
I will now turn the floor over to my colleague Mr. Drouin.
View Bruce Stanton Profile
Mr. Chair, I'm ready to answer the committee's questions. However, Mr. LeBlanc and Mr. Drouin may answer as well, depending on the topic.
View Bruce Stanton Profile
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Good afternoon, colleagues.
I'm here today as chair of the second iteration of the long-term vision and plan, or LTVP, working group. The first working group served during the 42nd Parliament.
I'm here to report to the Board of Internal Economy, or BOIE, on our work to date and to seek endorsement of our recommendation regarding phase 2 of the Parliament welcome centre, or PWC, which is part of the Centre Block rehabilitation program. For clarity, phase 1 of the welcome centre is what currently exists at the main visitor entrance to the West Block.
The working group has been mandated to provide updates to the BOIE on the rehabilitation project and to make recommendations as required. In addition, it will guide and inform consultations with members and stakeholders, including joint consultations with the Senate when necessary.
The working group met on June 17 to review the proposed mandate and to begin deliberations on the Centre Block rehabilitation at this stage of the project. The House of Commons administration and Public Services and Procurement Canada, or PSPC, provided an overview of the project. They gave an update on the progress made and the approvals to date. The working group was also informed of the guiding principles for the Centre Block established by the BOIE.
The overview provided us with a look at how the heritage conservation is being planned and is taking place in Centre Block and the importance of this significant heritage architecture. Included in the presentation was the list of architecturally significant rooms and spaces in Centre Block that require special attention and that should not be outwardly modified in a way that undermines their heritage value. The BOIE noted several of these spaces at their June 2019 meeting and asked for a recommended broader list to be reviewed by the working group. I understand that this list was provided to you, and the administration has since received additional spaces that should be included for consideration by our working group.
As this was our initial meeting, we were provided with an overview of the project plan and the roles of the various stakeholders. This very complex project is being delivered following a fast-track methodology consisting of many overlapping activities. We understand that early decisions needed to be made while requirements were still being developed.
The Centre Block rehabilitation, including the Parliament welcome centre, phase two, is one of the most significant capital works projects being undertaken in Canada. The significance ranges from its heritage value to its continued symbolism of Canadian democracy, as well as from the magnitude of the work and technical requirements. The parliamentary partners and PSPC are designing to meet the anticipated future needs that will be required to sustain the work of Canada's Parliament for the next 50 to 100 years.
As you're aware, the parliamentary welcome centre was initially planned early in the long-term vision and plan as a phased project to be delivered in sync with the major rehabilitation of the triad buildings of West Block, Centre Block and East Block. Phase one was completed at the same time as the West Block rehabilitation. It provided the secure entry that is there now for visitors, MPs and staff to West Block. That was phase one.
The design was based on serving the capacity of West Block with the anticipation of further phases being added to handle full capacity for the triad buildings. When completed, the Parliament welcome centre entity as a whole, phases one and two, will provide a secure and efficient entry for parliamentarians, business visitors and the public, and also meet the operational requirements of the House and Senate administrations to support the work of parliamentarians. It will also provide a visitor experience for the many thousands of visitors who are not able to pre-book a tour of the Parliament Buildings. We were surprised, quite honestly, to see what a big percentage that is.
Going forward, we will be looking at detailed requirements for key functions in Centre Block and the parliamentary welcome centre complex to ensure that building functions reflect the operations of Parliament and the members' needs in our workplace.
In terms of activities of the Centre Block rehabilitation and the parliamentary welcome centre project that needed the working group's immediate attention at our meeting, there was one main item that required further study as part of our BOIE approval in June of last year—namely, the excavation contract strategy for the welcome centre. The BOIE had tentatively approved the medium-sized welcome centre option based on a scalable excavation contracting strategy to allow enough time to review the requirements, options and associated costs while allowing the project work to still progress. The working group has reviewed the detailed information and options analysis, and brings forward our recommendation for the BOIE's consideration today.
The working group looked at three options for phase two of the welcome centre. All options considered the following implications: security, visitor experience, parliamentary functional requirements, heritage design considerations and cost. It is clear to us that excavation is required to accommodate the base building requirements, such as mechanical, electrical and plumbing, and to connect the triad buildings of East Block, West Block and Centre Block for utilities, material handling, circulation and security in order to support operations.
What we were intent on reviewing was the remainder of Parliament's requirements for the PWC. The meeting allowed us to look at those options and have our questions answered. It provided us with a fulsome understanding of those requirements and the incremental costs associated with the excavation and construction for the respective size of the welcome centre—the small, the medium and the large options.
Accordingly, the working group recommends going forward with the excavation and construction of the medium option. That's 32,600 square metres for phase two of the welcome centre. This option adequately meets the requirements of all parliamentary partners.
We had good discussions and exchanges in order to arrive at this consensus. I'll point out that one important consideration on our minds was the preservation of the lawn, the central stairs and the Vaux wall in their current state.
This recommended option will have no impact on these items because the PWC will be below grade. The Parliament welcome centre will provide the necessary support functions to ensure that the Centre Block is fully operational and secure for Parliament, and to ensure that Canadians and visitors have access to Parliament.
Over the summer, the working group will further review the overall requirements for the Centre Block to ensure that the BOIE can make key rehabilitation project decisions in a timely and reasonable manner so that the project can move forward with as little risk as possible.
Thank you for your attention. I'm happy to take questions or to elaborate on any of the information provided.
View Bruce Stanton Profile
I think that, in light of the question, it might be better.... This is more or less a scheduling issue
I don't know, Michel, whether PSPC might be the best to respond on that. What's your observation there?
View Bruce Stanton Profile
Thank you, Mr. Julian.
On the first point....
I'm sorry, Mr. Chair. I just sort of jumped into that right away. My apologies.
View Bruce Stanton Profile
On the first point, I don't know if we're able to put on one of the slides that we looked at in our committee meeting. It showed how and to what degree each of the options—small, medium and large—was able to meet the demands of both Houses, both chambers, as well as the administration requirements. We were satisfied that the medium option best met the prevailing necessities of both.
To your point, Mr. Julian, it allowed.... A key point for the group, when it was looking at this, was that the medium option would not create any kind of further encroachment onto the lawn of the Commons and effectively all of the new works would be below ground, so the surface-level appearance of Centre Block would be unchanged, save entranceways on either side of the centre stairs where the access for the welcome centre would be.
The medium option gave sufficient space for things like the visitor centre, to have that for the many who are unable to take a tour of Centre Block, as is done in other nations' capitals. There's a place where people can go to hear and see the amazing story about what our Parliament Buildings bring to our country and, at the same time, it meets the centre requirements. We were satisfied that the middle option satisfies the demands.
As to the specific things that were pared back, I would maybe ask Michel if there's another person who might best be able to pinpoint some of those specifics.
View Bruce Stanton Profile
Thanks, Michel.
On the second point, Mr. Julian, with respect to the House of Commons, we proceeded on the basis of the overview that we were given. We accepted the recommendation of this board, in fact, that there was no anticipation of a larger footprint for the House of Commons, so the additional capacities and necessities of the chamber, the House of Commons section of Centre Block, that we know of will have to be accommodated within the existing footprint.
View Bruce Stanton Profile
Thank you, Mr. Rota.
Mr. Strahl, thank you for your kind words. I still hope to be around for a little while longer. I mean, one never knows when the next election event may come. Who knows? It could be three years from now. I still have lots of time for fun at Parliament, that's for sure.
I can answer the question on the difference in square metres. To my knowledge and understanding, the numbers you previously looked at were square metres based on usable space for the medium option. In terms of the numbers, the size has not changed. The square metres number that you see in the medium option now is the entirety of the gross square metres of the actual footprint of this phase two welcome centre. That's why the number of square metres has risen.
I'd look to Michel or perhaps Mr. Wright for any further clarification on that, but that's my understanding.
View Bruce Stanton Profile
Thanks, Mr. Strahl.
I think it would be fair to say that the parliamentary welcome centre in this medium option does include additional meeting space for the Senate side. We certainly recognize that in the expansion of services to West Block, the number of committee rooms and resources now available to the House side has significantly increased. The same has certainly not been the case for the Senate side. This was, again, a co-operative exchange to look at what those needs might be, and the medium option does provide these additional spaces for the Senate on the one floor.
I'm not party to how those discussions took place or the specifics of the square footage allocation on that. I'm looking at the deck here to see, in fact, if there is anything more specific there, but I'm not finding it right at the moment. I think it's fair to say, when you balance the committee requirements, that, yes, it's true, a portion of this parliamentary welcome centre would be dedicated to some of those additional Senate resources.
View Bruce Stanton Profile
Thank you, Mr. Strahl.
I'm going to ask if Mr. Wright from PSPC could speak to that. I see the numbers that you're speaking of, and I think it's certainly a very relevant question.
View Bruce Stanton Profile
I think on the specific questions, especially those relating to the costs, I'll leave that perhaps to Mr. Wright or Mr. Patrice.
Ms. Bergen, I couldn't agree more. I think one of the profound responsibilities we have as a working group of MPs is, in fact, to take that responsibility seriously and make sure we are aware of how the project is going. We have a responsibility to report to you and this board as to the progress as it continues. I think that was one of the bases of informing how an MP working group should be there in the first place. We need to be aware and completely informed of the progress of the project and report to you on some of the key decisions that would speak to how...if issues come up that you need to be fully aware of. I think the MPs on the working group take that responsibility seriously, and we'll make sure that we follow through on that.
As to the cost questions, perhaps Mr. Wright would be best.
View Bruce Stanton Profile
That's very nice. Thank you.
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