Centre Block reno delayed
Senate, House won’t move until end of year
OTTAWA — Parliament Hill’s iconic Centre Block won’t be shutting down this summer, delaying the start of a badly needed renovation until at least next year.
Senators and MPs decided Thursday that neither will officially move out of their current home until the end of this calendar year to make sure they aren’t rushed into temporary abodes that aren’t yet ready to host either chamber.
Federal officials overseeing a massive renovation of the buildings that make up the parliamentary precinct had planned to close the Centre Block for a decade-long rehab starting this summer.
On Thursday morning, the Senate’s internal economy committee approved a phased-in moving schedule to relocate senators’ offices in the fall to temporary quarters in Ottawa’s former downtown railway station, followed by a final move into a new Senate chamber starting in late December after senators leave for their winter break.
Hours later, MPs on the House of Commons’ board of internal economy made a similar decision: Some offices in the Centre Block will start migrating to neighbouring buildings this summer but a final move will have to wait until after the winter adjournment, which typically starts shortly before Christmas. Commons Speaker Geoff Regan said in a statement the decision was taken after a “thorough status review and risk analysis of the Centre Block project.”
Renovating one of the country’s most iconic buildings is a massively complex project that has been years in the making, including creating a temporary House of Commons chamber inside the West Block.
“Parliament is a unique environment that requires a fully functional and operational facility with uninterrupted services,” Regan said in a statement.
“Taking the time to ensure that the West Block is fully functional with all required technology, that it provides safe and secure facilities, and that it has the appropriate level of fully trained service staff is imperative to sustaining the work of Parliament.”
Rehabilitating the parliamentary buildings is expected to cost more than $1 billion once all work is complete.
The department overseeing the work said in an email the decision to delay relocation of senators and MPs shouldn’t increase the budget for renovations, provided that workers can get into “significant empty portions of the Centre Block” to do some pre-renovation investigations and that the Centre Block is “completed vacated” by the end of 2018.
Public Services and Procurement Canada didn’t say what the decision means for project’s 10-year timeline.
The Centre Block of Parliament Hill is seen from the front gates in Ottawa. The Senate won’t officially move out of its current home until the end of the calendar year, potentially pushing the start of a badly-needed renovation of the Centre Block until at least 2019. Federal officials overseeing a massive renovation of the buildings that make up the parliamentary precinct in the capital had planned to close the building for a decade-long rehab starting this year.