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View Bruce Stanton Profile
CPC (ON)
View Bruce Stanton Profile
2021-02-25 11:06
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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.
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View Bruce Stanton Profile
CPC (ON)
View Bruce Stanton Profile
2020-12-03 10:50
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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.
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View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you very much.
Thank you, Mr. Stanton.
I know there's a tremendous amount of work involved, in addition to all the other hats you wear, so our thanks to you and to the team of members of Parliament working with staff on this difficult issue.
I have a number of questions, so I'll just lay them all out. I think that is easiest.
First off, in terms of the centre light court infill, you haven't mentioned what the possible use would be for that shared space. It would be helpful to have a few more details on that proposal.
On the infill courts, the west light court and the light-well, those seem to me to be no-brainers. Having had an office a number of times on that west court, I know the amount of wasted energy that is required to heat the four walls of the courtyard rather than just covering it over and using that space far more effectively. On the light-well, it never made sense to me why that was blocked in the first place. Again, there's an energy loss there, so bravo for looking at that.
My concern about the galleries, quite frankly, is that we are cutting basically in half the participation of people who are able to come directly into the House of Commons and see parliamentarians at work. As someone who comes from the far west of Canada—5,000 kilometres away—I know that when any of my constituents make their way across Canada, they want to have the full experience of our democracy, and often, they want to be able to participate in the House of Commons. That hasn't been a problem generally, but if we're cutting the number of seats in half, I think that would be. I would raise concerns about that.
Yes, absolutely we need to have the ability for people with reduced mobility and people with disabilities to be able to participate fully. There are designated spaces that could achieve that, but I'm very concerned about the cuts in the number of people who can actively participate. Could you perhaps explain a little bit more? You mentioned a scaling-up on occasion. That may happen more often than not. Particularly when we open the new building, we'll have people coming from across the country to see it. We certainly saw that with the Library of Parliament, so if you could go a little bit more into that, I would appreciate it.
I gather that a dedicated internal vertical circulation is Ottawa-speak for stairs or an elevator, and I'm wondering in terms of the lobby what that actually means. It would seem to me that given the narrowness of the lobby space, what we are actually doing is having the lobbies one floor down, and how that access up and down is achieved is important.
My final question is the most important one. What are the cost differentials in doing this? I assume from the west light court and the light-well that the energy savings will probably be far beyond the renovation costs. For some of the other things, it would be helpful for us to know at least in a ballpark way what the differential is between what would be a scaled-down version and what could be proposed. As we're going through a pandemic, most Canadians want to make sure every dollar spent is spent effectively.
Nobody wants to see a deterioration of the Centre Block. Quite the contrary, they want to see a renovation, but they don't want to see frills. We have to be very conscious of that to make sure that every dollar spent is effective.
Those are my questions. Thank you.
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View Bruce Stanton Profile
CPC (ON)
View Bruce Stanton Profile
2020-12-03 11:09
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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.
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Rob Wright
View Rob Wright Profile
Rob Wright
2020-12-03 11:14
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Sure. Thank you very much for the question, Mr. Chair.
I will speak first about the lobbies. We looked at two options essentially for the chambers. The option that is proposed here—and these costs include the work on the galleries in the chamber and for the lobbies—is costed at approximately $75 million. The alternative option, which was the expanded chamber option that we looked at, was a little in excess of $300 million. Those were the two comparative options that we looked at. The proposed option here, which again includes the work on the galleries, the chamber and the lobbies, would be approximately $75 million.
On the light-wells, as you quite correctly point out, there are a number of puts and takes from a cost perspective, so it is a little more complex. We could come back with cost comparisons on that, because there are the energy consumption considerations. The covering in the light-wells is essential to the sustainability strategy for the Centre Block. We have a carbon-neutral strategy for the Centre Block. Before it closed, the Centre Block was the worst performing from the perspective of energy performance, energy usage and GHG emissions within our portfolio. That is essential to the strategy, going forward.
The other thing that would be important to note is that, especially with respect to the west and east courtyards, the use of these courtyards provides universal accessible access for Canadians to the galleries. Without using the courtyards in this way, we would have to find another and probably more costly way that would impact the heritage components of the Centre Block.
This sidesteps a number of those issues. It is critical to the sustainability strategy, it is critical to the universal accessibility strategy and, as the Deputy Speaker indicated regarding the growth in the number of parliamentarians, it provides some additional elbow room for the building, which is critical. It's part of returning the Centre Block to the original vision of John Pearson, of making sure that there's symmetry, a light-filled space and common-use space for Parliament. This is essential and has been a bit lost over the years as functionality has, with the need for space, overtaken some of this common space.
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View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
View Blake Richards Profile
2020-12-03 11:17
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Just to follow along, one of my three questions was addressed already but I have two additional. I'll just follow up on the light court proposal.
We have the proposals for the west foyer, the west light court. Is there a similar proposal being put before our colleagues in the Senate for the east side and a light court there? I'm just curious on that front.
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View Bruce Stanton Profile
CPC (ON)
View Bruce Stanton Profile
2020-12-03 11:18
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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.
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View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
View Blake Richards Profile
2020-12-03 11:19
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Okay.
Just as a follow-up on that, you mentioned that there are, for example, House of Commons offices that back into that area as well. How will the interface between the two work to ensure that things are coordinated in a proper fashion and we are not getting two very different outcomes on each side?
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View Bruce Stanton Profile
CPC (ON)
View Bruce Stanton Profile
2020-12-03 11:19
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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.
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View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
View Blake Richards Profile
2020-12-03 11:20
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There's one other question I have. It wasn't really within the scope of your presentation this morning, but I am really curious about the welcome centre and how that will now look in terms of the entrance.
Right now, of course, we have the one entrance in front of the Peace Tower. Is that preserved in this or will something be done? I've always found that a bit of an odd and very awkward circumstance. What are the plans for that going forward, or can you address that today?
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View Bruce Stanton Profile
CPC (ON)
View Bruce Stanton Profile
2020-12-03 11:21
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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.
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View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
View Blake Richards Profile
2020-12-03 11:22
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When you say “the sides of the stairs”, do you mean the stairs that are there now—or were there—right under the Peace Tower? Are you talking about stairs that are going up from the lawn level?
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View Bruce Stanton Profile
CPC (ON)
View Bruce Stanton Profile
2020-12-03 11:23
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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.
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View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
View Blake Richards Profile
2020-12-03 11:23
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Okay. I think that does address what I was concerned with, which is the way it was previously. We all know that there have been situations where someone is coming directly into the building. We're avoiding that situation now. Someone will have to clear security before they enter the main building itself.
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View Bruce Stanton Profile
CPC (ON)
View Bruce Stanton Profile
2020-12-03 11:23
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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.
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View Gérard Deltell Profile
CPC (QC)
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
Thank you, Mr. Stanton.
I'd like to address three points with you.
First, I'd like to speak about the floor area in the House of Commons. There are currently 338 MPs. Needless to say, while there won't be any work over the next two weeks, there will be for the next century. Demographics being what they are, we may well need more MPs. If so, it'll be difficult to expand the space if the walls are put up.
Have you looked into the potential number of MPs who might sit in the future House of Commons? If so, do you expect future alterations?
It's hard to see how the current configuration could sit 500 MPs.
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View Bruce Stanton Profile
CPC (ON)
View Bruce Stanton Profile
2020-12-03 11:25
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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.
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View Gérard Deltell Profile
CPC (QC)
It's going to take a lot of creativity.
I have a highly technical question.
Are you going to keep the floors the way they are now?
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View Bruce Stanton Profile
CPC (ON)
View Bruce Stanton Profile
2020-12-03 11:27
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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?
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Susan Kulba
View Susan Kulba Profile
Susan Kulba
2020-12-03 11:27
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Thank you.
We've already established the available options for arranging all the seats in a way that would accommodate approximately 460 MPs, but they are still at the concept stage. More work is required before we can return to the working group with detailed plans. At that point, the possibilities can be studied and the best possible option for the House could be determined.
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View Gérard Deltell Profile
CPC (QC)
Thank you, Ms. Kulba.
A month ago I was able to visit the worksite with some colleagues and enjoyed what I saw very much. The people there said they had not encountered many surprises because they had a good work plan even before the sod-turning ceremony, which is a good sign.
Do you have a timeline for completion of the work?
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View Bruce Stanton Profile
CPC (ON)
View Bruce Stanton Profile
2020-12-03 11:28
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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?
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View Gérard Deltell Profile
CPC (QC)
The timeline for completion of the work was, to say the least, vague. There was talk of 10 to 20 years. Could we have a more precise idea of when the Centre Block renovation work will be completed?
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Rob Wright
View Rob Wright Profile
Rob Wright
2020-12-03 11:29
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Thank you very much for the question.
In fact, decisions about what we are discussing today are critical for coming up with a base budget and timeline. I'd say it'll be closer to 10 years than 20 years.
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View Gérard Deltell Profile
CPC (QC)
Good. Thank you.
The third matter is more a comment than a question.
Mr. Stanton, I'd like to thank you and congratulate you on the quality of your French. Just because we've been talking about it so much of late doesn't mean we need to talk about it even more, but I did want to point out that you've always spoken French, and I'm truly grateful for it.
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View Pablo Rodriguez Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Deltell has asked the two questions I wanted to ask. Thank you.
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View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, Mr. Stanton.
Do we approve the five recommendations?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
The Chair: Great, you have good news to bring back.
The next item is proposed 2021-22 main estimates. Our presenter is Daniel Paquette, chief financial officer.
Mr. Paquette, you have the floor.
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Stéphan Aubé
View Stéphan Aubé Profile
Stéphan Aubé
2020-11-19 11:04
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Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and members of the board.
We're here to obtain approval for permanent funding for the operations, maintenance, support and life-cycling of building connectivity assets that are transferred from PSPC to the House as part of the long-term renovations.
This business case is not a new business case. It's actually an update to a previous approval that was made by the board. The House administration came to this board in 2014 to seek approval for connectivity assets. It came back in 2015 to seek approval for components assets. It also came back in 2017 to seek approval for both connectivity and components assets.
The board had approved $24.6 million in temporary funding at that time. In addition to the $24.6 million that we're now seeking as permanent funding, we've also updated the life-cycling plan to include the assets of $6.7 million that have been transferred since 2017 to the House. The $6.7 million represents the budgeting that is required to sustain $77 million of assets that were transferred from the renovations to the House.
I would like to give you a bit of the history of the funding and the approvals that were previously received, because some members of this board might not have been here at that time.
The 2014-2015 submission to the Board of Internal Economy primarily involved assets transferred in connection with the renovations, which you see in yellow on the diagram.
After 2007, the goal of the long-term renovations was to get people out of the Wellington Building, the Valour Building and the Sir John A. Macdonald Building in order to renovate those buildings. So we renovated the Justice Building and, through Public Works, we acquired space on Queen Street so that we could relocate the House Administration people there.
The first submission focused on those buildings and some of the BCC projects, the building components and connectivity program, that we had put in place. Because we knew that Parliament Hill was growing at that time, we had plans to network all those buildings together, like a campus. We had projects like the massive conduit work on Sparks Street. A multimedia operations centre was also established for all broadcasting requirements.
In 2017, we returned to the Board of Internal Economy to request the necessary funds to support the renovations to the Wellington Building. The building at 180 Wellington Street houses 60 members of Parliament, and has about 10 committee rooms. We had also requested funds to support assets related to the Sir John A. Macdonald Building and the Valour Building. We also needed two other buildings so we could relocate House Administration staff.
Today, when we say $6.6 million, we are mainly referring to assets associated with the operation of the West Block. As you know, that's the building currently in use. We also have the Visitor Welcome Centre.
These primarily make up the requests for permanent funding we are presenting today to the Board of Internal Economy.
When we talk about assets throughout this presentation, we are basically talking about two different categories of assets. We talk about connectivity assets, such as the cable TV network that's on the Hill, the integrated security system, the networking aspects and all the multimedia aspects. We also talk about component assets. These are assets that are linked to the facilities, but they are basically mobile within the facilities, such as the furniture, the art and artifacts and any specialized equipment such as broadcast lighting and air conditioning that are related to technologies. These are the particular assets we're talking about that are under the responsibility of the House.
This chart depicts the amount of assets that have been transferred as part of the renovations to the House. As you can see, there are $205 million of assets that have been transferred since 2000. Over the last four years, since 2016, the $77 million basically represents the assets that weren't part of the 2017 approval that we sought from the board. What you're seeing through this chart is a depiction of the changes. The changes that we're seeking through this business case are basically linked to connectivity. You see the variances. We've demonstrated the variances across the different areas of investments, which total up to $6.6 million.
From a components perspective, as I said, for the assets that are linked to the buildings, we're not seeking any additional funding. The reason for this is we believe with the funding that we have, and also based on the current situation due to COVID, we'd like to defer any changes to that element of the funding that we received in the past because there could be possible changes in the future. We just want to focus on the connectivity assets because this is where we actually have an understanding of what possible funding requirements we'll have in the future.
Lastly, I'll give you a bit of the history. Why are we responsible for this? When the long-term renovations were launched in the late 1990s, there was an agreement between all partners, the parliamentary partners being the Senate and the House, and PSPC, which outlined the roles and responsibilities. Basically, for these projects, such as the West Block, Public Works is accountable for the overall project scope and delivery of them, but they're also responsible for the capital funding. They provide the funding when we need to actually acquire these assets, but we are accountable for the operational funding, so the maintenance, the support and also the life cycle of it. This is a key element of why we're here today, because we are accountable for making this happen, so it is our obligation to actually fund these assets.
I just wanted to outline some of the benefits of why it's important for the House to actually receive this funding. I put these pictures there and some of you might remember these facilities. As you see, the picture in the middle is an actual committee room pre-renovation. This was a committee room in the Valour Building. I have pictures also of the West Block. They're very similar. You can see the tables, the layout of the facilities and the amount of technology that was in these facilities. The picture on the right is actually the broadcasting facilities that we've had to provide services to the chamber and to the committees from a television perspective. There are many temporary facilities. These buildings weren't equipped with the equipment that we had to put forward to actually offer 21st century meetings. I just wanted to give you guys a bit of history from a benefit perspective.
You'll also see the cabling arrangement in these facilities. This is actually a picture of Centre Block. It shows the security systems, how they were actually installed because we didn't have the infrastructure to support them. Basically now, with these renovations, we've allowed members to have facilities that enable them to interact and have proper meeting facilities for the caucuses, the committees and the chamber.
Finally, there's been a lot of investments in order to enable parliamentarians to better communicate and serve their constituents in the chamber, as well as from an infrastructure perspective behind the walls.
Having said that, the final recommendation is that we're here to recommend that the board move forward with the investment required, and also that we move forward with the permanent funding as of 2023-24 of nearly $30 million for these assets that have been transferred to the House.
Mr. Speaker, I'll just open it up for questions.
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View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Thanks very much. I appreciate the detail that is in the documents.
I want to be sure that this allows for the transition and acquisition of both the capital and staffing required and that there won't be further funds required in coming years. This issue, as you've mentioned, Mr. Aubé, has come back repeatedly to the BOIE over the last few years. I think that certainly Canadians want to know that we're actually putting into place a plan that works for the long term and that is sustainable.
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Stéphan Aubé
View Stéphan Aubé Profile
Stéphan Aubé
2020-11-19 11:14
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Thank you, Mr. Julian, for the question.
There are two parts to your question. We have came back every three years because in 2014 we made a commitment to the board that we would come back every three years. We had recognized that there were a lot of renovations under way and we weren't ready to actually commit to permanent funding because we didn't have the clear picture at that time. This is why we came back every three years. I can attest, sir, that we feel with a high level of confidence there won't be requirements for the existing assets we have.
Having said that, there are facilities that will need to be onboarded in the future, sir, such as at Centre Block. We're starting the renovations of Centre Block. We're also starting the renovations of the Confederation Building. We're in planning. We're also looking at the renovations on Sparks. These would be separate elements, sir, but for all the elements that I've shown you, we are not planning to come back to the board. We feel that we have a very sure understanding of the requirements of the funding for the assets that we've transferred. We feel very confident.
I would ask my colleague Dan, the CFO, to comment on that. We've done our due diligence, sir, from a financial planning perspective on all these assets.
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Daniel Paquette
View Daniel Paquette Profile
Daniel Paquette
2020-11-19 11:15
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I want to comment on that also.
We've done our homework. We've done due diligence on best practice for this kind of technology and the pieces here. That's why we were coming back every three years. We wanted things to be stabilized. As Stéphan outlined in his presentation, we have had oversight and control of some of these buildings in their renovated state for a couple of years or more. We're able now to actually sit down and do those estimates with some level of assurance.
Obviously, none of us have a crystal ball. Unless some really unusual event occurs or changes occur in how Parliament wants to do business, for these buildings and these assets, this is our best estimate of what we feel is needed long term.
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View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
There will be additional funding in the coming year or two, on Centre Block and Sparks Street, potentially.
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Stéphan Aubé
View Stéphan Aubé Profile
Stéphan Aubé
2020-11-19 11:16
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That would be in the long run, sir. We don't see that over the next six years, at least. We see that in a longer time period.
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View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Are there any other questions?
I'll just follow on Mr. Julian's question, if I can. It's the prerogative of the chair to ask a question.
Just to clarify, I think we're mixing hard assets and operations here. They're two separate issues. What we have here is operations, correct? Salaries? That has nothing to do with purchasing new assets.
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Stéphan Aubé
View Stéphan Aubé Profile
Stéphan Aubé
2020-11-19 11:17
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It's not only salaries, sir. It's the ability to maintain and support the assets, such as the cameras in this facility. We have to life-cycle them over the years. What we're seeking is the money to life-cycle them whenever the end of life will come to them. We're also seeking the money to support them and maintain them during their expected life cycle. We had sought some original money for salaries in the previous periods. We're not seeking any additional funding for salaries.
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View Bruce Stanton Profile
CPC (ON)
View Bruce Stanton Profile
2020-10-08 11:20
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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.
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View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Mr. Stanton, thank you very much for the report.
Of course, I'm in favour of designating the chair of the working group to sit on the jury.
The coronavirus has had an impact on a lot of projects across the country, so I'm wondering if there are any updated figures that you could give us or if you can let us know when you think the working group would be able to do that.
Thank you.
My question is very simple: Are there any updated budget figures around the overall projects?
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View Bruce Stanton Profile
CPC (ON)
View Bruce Stanton Profile
2020-10-08 11:28
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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.
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Rob Wright
View Rob Wright Profile
Rob Wright
2020-10-08 11:29
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It's Rob Wright here with PSPC. Maybe I'll jump [Inaudible—Editor] information.
With regard to costing of the Centre Block and Parliament's welcome centre, what we have done so far is to provide some cost estimates for different options around specific large components of the project.
If you remember the decisions around the chamber and different options around the chamber, we provided costing around different options for that, as well as different size options for the welcome centre. On some specific options around elements that the Senate of Canada is considering with regard to potential infills in the east courtyard, for example, we gave different costings around that. Those elements are now coming together, and as we move forward through the areas....
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Rob Wright
View Rob Wright Profile
Rob Wright
2020-10-08 11:31
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Okay, great.
We're coming at this in what I would call component parts. As we're moving through the decisions and the options that are being put forward to Parliament, those decisions are kind of big boulders that have a really material impact on the baseline cost for the Centre Block and the welcome centre. As we proceed through those this fall, we'll be able to come back with a baseline budget as well as a schedule. That will set us up in a really good situation.
As for the impacts of the COVID situation on the Centre Block, I think we've been able to absorb those really well. At the beginning of COVID in mid-March, we worked really hard to put in place what I would call best health and safety practices on the site. We worked with the Canadian Construction Association, and those became best practices for construction activity across the country.
I would say that we had to make a few adjustments, but it really has not impacted the schedule, as we've been able to move forward. From a cost perspective, that is probably the most important element on a project of this scale. Time is money, so being able to adhere to the schedule has benefited us very much from a budgetary perspective. We've been able to keep track and hit all of the milestones, and as we continue to work with the working group and the Senate LTVP subcommittee on these major decisions that will be recommended back to the Board of Internal Economy as well as to CIBA, that will position us to have a baseline budget and schedule.
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View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Would you like a follow-up on that, Mr. Julian?
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View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
When do you think you will be able to bring that to the BOIE?
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Rob Wright
View Rob Wright Profile
Rob Wright
2020-10-08 11:33
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As soon as the board makes some of these final determinations on the options, we will be able to come back with the budget.
It's important to note that there are thousands of decisions that form the scope for this project, but even a handful can swing the project price in hundreds of millions of dollars. It will be difficult to come back to you with a budget without having inputs on those decisions. They have a tremendous impact on the budget.
On the size of the Chamber, we have that. That was an important decision. On the size of the parliamentary welcome centre, we have that. That was an extremely important decision. There are probably another 10 to 15 critical decisions that will really allow us to have a base. There will be more decisions to come. Once we have those big boulder decisions behind us, we'll be able to establish that baseline budget. Our hope would be to move through that by the Christmastime period.
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View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
View Blake Richards Profile
2020-10-08 11:35
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I had some questions similar to Mr. Julian's, but I'll add a couple of brief questions.
With regard to the recommendations in terms of the design for the chamber, etc., will those recommendations include various seating options? Will there be scenarios for various seating options? Will there be one that's brought forward? Will it have that kind of detail? Will seating options be included as part of those recommendations?
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Rob Wright
View Rob Wright Profile
Rob Wright
2020-10-08 11:36
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Mr. Richards, our first look at this was very preliminary. We looked at different options extending out to 2050. The notions around this planning, especially for galleries and space for members in the galleries in the House itself, are all impacted by the trajectory of population growth and therefore the growth in the number of parliamentarians as well, over literally decades. We just had a first look at that.
You may know that a while back the decision was taken to ensure that the footprint of the House of Commons chamber itself would not be changed. We're going to stay with the existing footprint that's there. Once the working group has had some further discussion on this, we will bring it back to the board with suggestions. We'll see what the working group decides, but we'll bring our best suggestions and we'll let the board take a look at it at that time.
Suffice it to say that as we go forward, the demands and requirements on this space are certainly going to increase.
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View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
View Blake Richards Profile
2020-10-08 11:37
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I would like to follow up on that.
Is the understanding that you're going to bring forward one recommendation instead of a set of options? Is that the intention? I also understood that it was indicated in March that the board really wanted to see the chamber remain as close as it is to its current format. Perhaps you can answer both of those in concert.
Also, I'll just throw one more in and let you answer all three.
In terms of the galleries themselves, is there contemplation to ensuring they are more secure? Obviously, we've seen things dropped over, and things like that in the past. Is there thought being given to how those will look going forward?
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View Bruce Stanton Profile
CPC (ON)
View Bruce Stanton Profile
2020-10-08 11:38
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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.
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View Gérard Deltell Profile
CPC (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Good morning, Mr. Stanton.
It's always nice to talk to you, in any circumstance, but this is a first for me.
I think I know the answer, but I'm wondering whether we could safely have a guided tour of the Centre Block to see the work under way.
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View Bruce Stanton Profile
CPC (ON)
View Bruce Stanton Profile
2020-10-08 11:40
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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.
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View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
We'll look into that, then, and try to arrange another tour, in the hope that everyone is available. I know it's worthwhile to see the work that's happening.
Are there any other questions?
Mr. Stanton was seeking approval from the board in relation to the architectural design competition for Block 2 and to the chair of the working group, Mr. Stanton, being designated as the juror representing the House of Commons. Is everyone in favour of that?
Good. It's unanimous. Congratulations or condolences, Mr. Stanton; I'm not sure which, but I'm sure you'll do an excellent job.
We'll now move on to item 5, the 48th annual session of the Assemblée parlementaire de la Francophonie, taking place in Montreal from July 7 to 12, 2022.
Once again, it's over to you, Mr. Stanton.
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View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Is there any other business arising from the previous meeting?
Seeing none, we'll proceed to point number three on the agenda, the LTVP working group recommendations. The presenter with us today is Mr. Stanton, who is the chair of the working group on Centre Block.
I'll just hand it over, and I'm sure we'll get a wonderful report.
Bruce, it's all yours.
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View Bruce Stanton Profile
CPC (ON)
View Bruce Stanton Profile
2020-07-10 13:11
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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.
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View Mark Holland Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Mark Holland Profile
2020-07-10 13:21
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Thank you.
Thank you so much, Mr. Stanton. Thank you for your report. Thank you for the work being done by the working group. I do support the recommendations.
My question isn't with respect to the recommendations before us today. This question is for the House administration and those involved on the staff side of the project. I'm wondering whether we could get a bit of an update on the implications of COVID on construction timelines. I know that there was some concern, when we were initially talking about this project, around the decisions we were making, the speed of those decisions, and their implications for the timeline of the project. I'm wondering if we could have a bit of an update on those items.
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View Bruce Stanton Profile
CPC (ON)
View Bruce Stanton Profile
2020-07-10 13:22
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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?
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Rob Wright
View Rob Wright Profile
Rob Wright
2020-07-10 13:23
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I'd be happy to take the question, Mr. Chair.
We actually work very closely with parliamentary partners as well as industry to develop what are, I think we can safely say, leading-edge practices for health and safety on construction sites. We worked with the Canadian Construction Association and in fact informed the development of the best practices that have been communicated nationally for construction across the country. While that is a provincial jurisdiction, the Canadian Construction Association has communicated these to ensure that there's consistency from site to site to site.
I'll give you a few of the elements that have been applied on site. There is a questionnaire for all individuals before entering the site. Temperature readings are taken of all people entering the site. Everyone on site wears a face covering. That's been in place for the last couple of months, I would say. There is social distancing. There's been consideration of travel routes and segregation, to a certain extent, of the site. The Centre Block site provides the opportunity, as it's a very large site of 55,000 square metres, for social distancing. From a schedule perspective, the benefit is that we have not really seen many impacts. A few adjustments had to be made on supply chains, but we were able to make those adjustments.
I would say that we've been able to keep the schedule on track. In some sense, because of the reduction in traffic in the downtown core, for example, as we are in the early stages of excavation, we've actually been able to see some benefits from a schedule perspective.
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View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Thanks very much, Mr. Chair.
Thank you, Mr. Stanton, for your presentation today. Having been part of the first iteration of the Centre Block working group, I appreciate all the time and effort that I know members of the working group are putting in.
I have a comment and then a couple of questions.
My comment is that I certainly appreciate that we're not going for what many of us considered to be the Cadillac option in terms of building the visitor welcome centre. The larger option was much more expensive. We're talking about over $110 million in savings, if my memory is correct, and I think that's very appropriate.
Mr. Stanton, perhaps you or one of the dedicated public servants here could explain what that means in terms of cutting back those requests that came forward. There were a lot of requests, as part of that larger option, around committee rooms for the Senate, which quite frankly didn't seem necessary. For the people who are watching today from the press gallery and from the public, it would be good to know, I think, what we're paring away.
Second, I don't see a recommendation around the House of Commons chamber itself. Could you elaborate a bit more on what you think the decision-making point is and will be around the House of Commons chamber?
Thank you.
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View Bruce Stanton Profile
CPC (ON)
View Bruce Stanton Profile
2020-07-10 13:27
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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.
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Michel Patrice
View Michel Patrice Profile
Michel Patrice
2020-07-10 13:29
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Thank you, Mr. Stanton.
Mr. Julian, in terms of paring back, I don't have information for all the partners, but definitely from the House of Commons I can tell you that the requirements were pared down to what we felt was needed to support the work of the House of Commons and the members.
The Library of Parliament also did its part in terms of paring down its requirements. I don't have the exact number, but at least 1,000 square meters, if not more. In terms of the exercise, that would be going to the medium option. The partners have been working since last year—not necessarily in relation to this working group—on making sure that nobody was asking too much. These are the partners I can talk about, in terms of paring down the requirements of what's required to support the work of Parliament.
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View Bruce Stanton Profile
CPC (ON)
View Bruce Stanton Profile
2020-07-10 13:30
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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.
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View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Strahl Profile
2020-07-10 13:31
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Thank you very much.
With apologies to Claude, who's in a very hot building, and Dominic, whose boat is idling nearby, I do have a number of questions about this. I think this is a very important decision point for us.
First of all, Bruce, you've indicated that you're not running again in the next election, and I would like to express my disappointment. This is my first opportunity to salute your great career. You will be missed whenever that happens—assuming, of course, I'm successful whenever that next election comes. We'll miss you when you do take your well-earned retirement. Perhaps Dominic can host you at his cottage.
I have a couple of questions on the proposed recommendations. It's interesting; these decisions, I find, are always presented with two terrible solutions and one “just right” solution that we seem to be funnelled into. We have that now with the medium option: The porridge is just right.
The medium option is referred to as being 32,600 square metres. Last year when we looked at this, the large option was 27,844 square metres. There is some talk here in the briefing about the net and gross building size, but it appears from the outside that the medium option is now bigger than the previous large option. What am I reading there incorrectly? Can you explain to me whether or not this entire project has grown since the last time we made a decision on it?
That's my first question, Mr. Chair. I do have more. I don't know whether you want me to just rattle off all my questions and have them all handled or do them one at a time.
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View Bruce Stanton Profile
CPC (ON)
View Bruce Stanton Profile
2020-07-10 13:33
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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.
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Rob Wright
View Rob Wright Profile
Rob Wright
2020-07-10 13:34
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You're exactly right, sir.
I guess the questions we were looking at were a little different. When last we were discussing this, we were focused most on how space would be programmed. We were looking at space that could be programmed for the different users, that being the House, the Senate and the Library of Parliament. Now we're really trying to look at the costing comparisons that include all the spaces—the common space, the corridors, the material handling space and so on—not programmed by one of the individual entities but required for the functioning of the facility. The gross is apples to apples.
Mr. Stanton is exactly right that the actual space has not grown, although I would understand the perception of it.
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View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Strahl Profile
2020-07-10 13:36
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Thank you for clearing that up.
This builds a bit on Mr. Julian's comments, I think. I understand the visitor experience that Bruce talked about, giving constituents the opportunity to learn more about Parliament when they're below ground, before they're actually brought up into the visitor gallery, etc. I still want to know what functions will be contained in this option.
The costing report prepared for the department this spring said that the recommended option had a number of things. It said it would include public food services, three committee rooms and a multi-purpose room for the Senate. Did that translate over into this option, what was prepared in the costing analysis for the department? Certainly, that would be an expansion of the visitor experience. I don't believe there are public food services.
Again, recognizing that this is a shared building between the Senate and the House, it seems to me that the parliamentary functions that are being proposed here are primarily on the Senate side. Am I correct on that?
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View Bruce Stanton Profile
CPC (ON)
View Bruce Stanton Profile
2020-07-10 13:37
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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.
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View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Strahl Profile
2020-07-10 13:39
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Finally, I want to talk a bit about the costing.
The building and construction costs are estimated at $530 million, but a further $203.5 million in various contingencies and escalation has been added, which is about 38% of the cost. Is it normal for nearly 40% to be budgeted for contingencies and escalation? One of the line items, $54 million, is called “escalation to mid-point of construction”. I don't know what that means, and I'd like to understand that.
Again, is it normal for a procurement project to have a 40% escalation clause built into it, and what does that particular “escalation to mid-point of construction” mean?
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View Bruce Stanton Profile
CPC (ON)
View Bruce Stanton Profile
2020-07-10 13:40
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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.
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Rob Wright
View Rob Wright Profile
Rob Wright
2020-07-10 13:40
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Thank you very much for the question. I can try to unpack that as clearly as possible. It is an important question.
One thing I would say is that the costing report that you reference was conducted by an independent costing firm, which used industry best practices for this costing effort. There are two key things. Yes, these types of contingencies are normal, especially for projects at this stage. I can clarify that a little further. Additionally, this is built upon 15 years of delivery of projects on the Hill, which has informed the different types of contingencies that result in projects coming in on budget.
The design contingency is an element for the initial stages of the project. This cost estimate was developed at a point in time before the completion of schematic design, so early stages and before some of the key decisions have been made by Parliament. There are a number of unknowns that remain. As we move into detailed design, that design contingency will be kind of ended in the next 18-month to two-year period. Then that will become a certainty from a design perspective. So the design contingency will be kind of used up, or not, over the next 18 to 24 months as we move through the design.
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Rob Wright
View Rob Wright Profile
Rob Wright
2020-07-10 13:42
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The construction contingency is essentially for unknown conditions as we move into construction. For example, we've just run into the first unknown element. As we've done the early excavation work, we have found, on the southeast corner of Centre Block, in front of the Senate area, that the foundation is actually a rubble foundation. That was an unknown. There will be some cost implications and impacts that will come from that.
We will run through a number of those experiences as we move through this in a 100-year-old building of which there were no blueprints, etc. We have a fairly exhaustive assessment program to reduce those unknowns as much as possible, but we will run into those over time.
Escalation is an important factor. We tried to take, I would say, a fairly conservative approach here. Any cost estimate is in current dollars, not in future dollars, so the escalation is essentially an attempt to accommodate inflationary pressures into the cost estimate. If you look back over the past 10-year period, the escalation factor in the Ottawa construction industry has been 3%: 2.95%, to be specific.
As we look forward, I would say that right now escalation is a challenging piece to get right, as we are in the COVID situation, so we will continue to assess this. We feel that 3.5% would be a safe and conservative estimate at this point.
The midpoint element that you mention is where we would not want to apply escalation to early activities. Take excavation, for example. It is not going to experience escalation, because it is a current activity and it will be done in the early points of the construction. To average out the escalation—because it is cumulative, as it kind of builds on itself from year to year to year—from a time point perspective, we apply it to the total cost above but for the first half, from a time perspective, to make sure that we're not inappropriately applying escalation to construction events that would be happening early in the project and should not experience any type of escalation pressures.
I'm happy to expand further. I know it is a bit of a technical area, and we would be happy to provide any additional information as well.
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View Pablo Rodriguez Profile
Lib. (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
I also want to thank the committee members for their work.
The questions that I wanted to ask on this topic have already been put forward. That said, I'd like Mr. Speaker or the group members to refresh my memory on the following matter. I know that the group must also look at the general requirements for the Centre Block. I want to know the next steps of the working group and when our committee will be dealing with this.
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Michel Patrice
View Michel Patrice Profile
Michel Patrice
2020-07-10 13:46
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I will ask Susan Kulba to maybe give a bit of detail.
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Susan Kulba
View Susan Kulba Profile
Susan Kulba
2020-07-10 13:46
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The next step is a meeting where the team will address the needs of Parliament. The next meeting will take place in August, at least we hope so.
We will get together to review the more detailed requirements. We'll be looking at the chamber, the lobbies and the gallery as a first step to make sure that, within the footprint, we're looking at creative ways to make sure that we're able to serve Parliament and its future growth. Then, we will break it down further into details that really impact the work that you do, and make sure that we've gathered any special requirements that you want to add in or elaborate on, so that we can really make sure the building is suitable for you.
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View Candice Bergen Profile
CPC (MB)
Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.
Thank you, Mr. Stanton, for your presentation, and to all of you for the work that you've done.
I'm going to start by saying that—at least for me, and I think for most members of Parliament on this board—we don't want to see, three years from now, costs escalating yet again, there seeming to be no answers as to why, and the taxpayer looking back on us and saying that we said yes to this without really giving it thorough oversight.
When I see the differences, for example, in the square footage that we were given as the small, medium and large options, which are being changed today, the explanation sounds reasonable to me, but at the same time it's not something I'm an expert on. I'm concerned that the same thing could happen with the costs. When we're talking about a 38% escalation cost, if you tell us that's normal, we believe you.
I guess what I'm asking is this: Can the taxpayer, and those of us who are members of Parliament representing the taxpayer, be assured that there is somebody there and that there is a check there so that these costs won't escalate even further? It's just like the square footage. There's a reasonable answer as to why we were given different square footage amounts a while ago, as compared to today. Can we be assured that these costs will not escalate beyond this 38%?
In the private sector, there's somebody paying the bill; there's a business case being made, and that usually helps provide checks and balances. I absolutely understand that in this setting we don't have that, but I, for one, want to be able to look the taxpayer in the eye and say that we, as members of Parliament on BOIE, did everything we could to ensure that these costs didn't escalate and that there wasn't a blank cheque given.
I would like some assurances around that. I'll leave that as a comment, and maybe somebody wants to speak to it.
I do have a specific question. I think Mr. Wright referred to the excavation changes. Is there an update? I think the previous number was $48 million for that cost. I'm just wondering if that is changing, and whether we'll be given updates on that.
Second, in regard to the decision we're being asked to make, are we actually making a decision, or are we giving the minister our position? I know that recently the state broadcaster reported that BOIE recommended the $733-million option. Obviously, the CBC was in error, because we hadn't made that decision, but I just want to know that the minister hasn't been told that we've made a decision, and whether this is a recommendation or a decision point.
Those are two questions, and then I just have one more quick comment after that.
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View Bruce Stanton Profile
CPC (ON)
View Bruce Stanton Profile
2020-07-10 13:51
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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.
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Rob Wright
View Rob Wright Profile
Rob Wright
2020-07-10 13:52
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I will definitely start, and then perhaps I can pass it to Ms. Garrett on the details.
One thing that I think is important.... As Mr. Stanton indicated, we have constructed the first phase of the visitor welcome centre, and it may be useful to compare the estimates that we have here and the actual costs that resulted in that project.
Phase one of the visitor welcome centre, from a gross square metre perspective, so apples to apples, is approximately 5,700 square metres. If you extrapolate that to the size here, that would give you an estimate of $780 million, approximately, and that is non-escalated. If you added an escalation factor into that, that would take you above $800 million. The estimate that we have here is $730 million for that kind of apples-to-apples comparison. I think it can illustrate the comparability between something that is a completed project and the costs that were incurred against the estimate, and the estimate compares favourably to those real results.
On the excavation, in particular, we have awarded a contract, so that has moved from an estimate to a more concrete estimate, if you will. I'll ask Ms. Garrett to provide the details on that.
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Jennifer Garrett
View Jennifer Garrett Profile
Jennifer Garrett
2020-07-10 13:54
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Thank you very much for the question.
As it pertains to the excavation contract, Mr. Wright is correct. We have actually tendered and awarded the contract associated with what we call, or what you will commonly hear as, the mass excavation for the program. That represents the [Technical difficulty—Editor] in front of Centre Block. It does not represent the entirety of the excavation program. We still have to award the program that digs in and creates the connection between that parliamentary welcome centre and Centre Block.
For example, if you're looking at the cost table, you'll see that we are carrying $66 million associated with that excavation activity, and that is to carry out the fulsome budget that we're carrying to conduct both the excavation of the whole and the connections into Centre Block, in its totality. When we have the second aspect of the contract tendered, then we'll have actual costs for both elements of the program.
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View Candice Bergen Profile
CPC (MB)
Great, thank you.
Could someone just answer the question of whether we're giving the minister a recommendation here or actually making a decision? Has the decision been made by the minister, in effect?
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Michel Patrice
View Michel Patrice Profile
Michel Patrice
2020-07-10 13:55
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Thank you for that question.
I'm just going to say a bit about the gross and the net square metres, because I kind of had the same reaction when I saw the different data. Just for the benefit of the board, I'm going to say that at that time, while we were discussing net, the amount was about the same. It was around the same number in terms of the estimated costs when we were looking at that issue, but it did create for me some kind of angst when I saw the two different sets of numbers.
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View Candice Bergen Profile
CPC (MB)
That's because you knew what we as MPs would be thinking. You knew we'd be asking about that too.
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Michel Patrice
View Michel Patrice Profile
Michel Patrice
2020-07-10 13:56
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Yes.
In terms of the decision, obviously the working group is looking at it and making a recommendation to the board in terms of what they think the requirements of the House would be. The board here is responsible for the facilities, and in terms of the administration of the House of Commons is basically informing the government, through the minister, what we have identified as our requirements and our needs. The decision rests with the minister and the government in terms of whether or not they will go through and undertake that spending.
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Michel Patrice
View Michel Patrice Profile
Michel Patrice
2020-07-10 13:56
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My understanding is that there is no decision. I personally would be surprised if a decision had been made by the minister before hearing the views of the House of Commons. So nothing has been done—
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View Candice Bergen Profile
CPC (MB)
Thanks for clarifying that.
Finally, through you, Mr. Stanton, perhaps you could reiterate this to the working group. When you were giving us your report, you were talking about the specific rooms in Centre Block that had been listed and how there would not be an undermining of their heritage value. I would like to reiterate that, as I recall from when we had this discussion, we really don't want those rooms changed. We'd like to be able to walk in and see that they are not changed at all.
I just want to reiterate that point. We really hope that so many of those rooms remain exactly the same outwardly as they were when we left just over a year ago. Thanks very much for the opportunity to provide that feedback.
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View Bruce Stanton Profile
CPC (ON)
View Bruce Stanton Profile
2020-07-10 13:58
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That's an excellent point. Thank you.
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View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Strahl Profile
2020-07-10 13:59
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Mr. Chair, did we actually say yes or no to the recommendations in item three? I just want to make sure we didn't have a long conversation for....
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View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
No, you're absolutely right. We did not proceed to accept that.
Is everyone in accordance with number three? Was the questioning and everything in order?
I see a lot of heads nodding.
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View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Welcome.
It's Thursday, March 12, 2020, and we'll proceed with meeting number three of the Board of Internal Economy.
The first item on the agenda is the minutes of the previous meeting.
Is everything in order? There are no adjustments; everything's fine. Do we have approval? Good.
The next item we'll look at is the parliamentary precinct long-term vision and plan.
Before we go to that, I want to inform everyone that we'll be going in camera should the person from Health Canada come here a bit earlier. Because it is a pressing matter, I want to make sure everyone is here. We may have to interrupt our meeting at some point to proceed with that.
We'll hear from our presenters: Michel Patrice, deputy clerk, administration; Stéphan Aubé, chief information officer; and Susan Kulba, director general, real property.
Mr. Holland.
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View Mark Holland Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Mark Holland Profile
2020-03-12 11:19
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Mr. Speaker, there have been very productive discussions among members of the board with respect to this item. I first want to thank my colleagues for those conversations, which have been very fruitful, and provide a recommendation. I thought it would be appropriate for me to start by summarizing as best I can the conversations we've had.
The intention would be to create a subcommittee, a working group, if you will, comprised of members of Parliament from all recognized parties that would be a subcommittee of the Board of Internal Economy, and would report its recommendations to the Board of Internal Economy. We've had some conversations on this to get the composition right. I'm proposing three Liberals, two Conservatives, one Bloc and one NDP for that working group.
From our own perspective, we'll be populating it with members of PROC to harmonize the process and the work PROC has been doing with the work we are doing.
The Senate would then choose its own working group format. It could have a conversation about matters specifically of import to the Senate, the Senate chamber, the Senate meeting rooms and that sort of thing. However, where there is overlap, those two bodies could meet jointly and try to find a way to get on the same page.
The Board of Internal Economy, though, and we would be seeking to do it at this meeting, would be looking to provide specific direction that the overriding principle be the preservation of heritage.
Candice, I know you had some specific thoughts about some of the pieces, some “thou shalt not touch” provisions: Thou shalt not touch the chamber. Thou shalt not touch the Hall of Honour. Thou shalt not touch the entrance for members. Thou shalt not touch la Francophonie. We would place specific direction to restore these elements of heritage and not contemplate any amendment or potential destruction of these elements of heritage.
I don't think this needs to be part of a motion, but it's important to state that the assistant deputy minister for parliamentary infrastructure of the Department of Public Services and Procurement, or his or her designate, would operate as liaison to the working group to make sure there's that connection between the ministerial side and the work of the parliamentary group. Obviously, it would be led by the parliamentary group, and the minutes of the working group meeting would be recorded and made public 30 days following a meeting.
Mr. Speaker, that builds on the conversations we had at the previous meeting, where we really heard from all members around the importance of—
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View Mark Holland Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Mark Holland Profile
2020-03-12 11:23
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Yes, that is my understanding. I'm looking at Charles to see if this has been circulated to members.
I think the text is available in both official languages.
Members should have that in front of them. I'm suggesting that as a framework for the motion that we can hopefully proceed with today.
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View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I feel that the text reflects our discussion quite well.
However, I would actually write that the government will have three members, the official opposition two members, and the third and fourth parties one member each. This would ensure that the subcommittee's work can continue if we have an election, whether scheduled or not.
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View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
So what are you suggesting, exactly: more members?
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View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
I am suggesting replacing the reference to the Liberal Party by “government” and the reference to the Conservative Party by “official opposition”, and so on.
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View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Okay, I understand. So we will use the terms “government”, “official opposition”, “third party” and “fourth party”.
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View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
The figures will stay the same.
Do we have consensus to proceed in that manner?
Is everybody in accordance—
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View Candice Bergen Profile
CPC (MB)
I think the one thing we want to make sure of, and I think we would probably all be in agreement, is that this committee doesn't get too overly bureaucratic where they are calling witnesses and satisfying curiosities. I'd like to make sure that we have some of those parameters. Maybe right now isn't the time to do it. Maybe we want to establish that we will have this subcommittee made up of the composition that you outlined. Or do we want to lay down a few more parameters now?
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View Mark Holland Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Mark Holland Profile
2020-03-12 11:26
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I'm open. My thinking would be that we would allow that body to make a determination. The parameters are fairly tight. If the committee wanted to hear representation on public use of the front lawn and the implication on the design....
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