Newly ren­o­vated West block turned over to speaker

The Daily Press (Timmins) - - NATIONAL NEWS - TERRY PEDWELL

OT­TAWA — The newly ren­o­vated West block of Par­lia­ment was for­mally turned over to the speaker of the house of Commons Thurs­day as Ge­off re­gan ac­cepted a large, sculpted cop­per key on be­half of MPs.

“if this is the key, i want to see the size of the lock,” re­gan quipped as he was handed the sym­bolic lock-turner by Pub­lic ser­vices min­is­ter Carla Qual­trough at a cer­e­mony just out­side the tem­po­rary Commons cham­ber the build­ing now holds.

While a few fin­ish­ing touches re­main, in­clud­ing in­stalling the desks where MPs will de­bate leg­is­la­tion over at least the next decade, the ren­o­va­tions to the stately 19th-cen­tury build­ing are all but com­plete.

mem­bers of Par­lia­ment are set to move out of the Cen­tre block, which will un­dergo its own mas­sive up­grade, over their Christ­mas hol­i­day break and be­gin de­lib­er­at­ing gov­ern­ment busi­ness in the trans­formed West block once they re­turn on Jan. 28.

The West block ren­o­va­tion took seven years, with a price tag ap­proach­ing $1 bil­lion.

“on bud­get and on sched­ule,” Qual­trough high­lighted as she spoke of the re­design.

re­fur­bish­ing Par­lia­ment’s Cen­tre block, in­clud­ing the in­tri­cate clean­ing and restora­tion of its ex­te­rior stones, is ex­pected to take at least a decade.

ren­o­va­tions to West block have “brought to­gether the old with the new,” cap­tur­ing the his­tory of the stone her­itage build­ing while in­cor­po­rat­ing new tech­nolo­gies, in­clud­ing a glass ceil­ing over the tem­po­rary Commons that is de­signed to cap­ture heat in the win­ter and ex­pel it in the summer, Qual­trough said as she stood in­side the still-new-smelling in­terim house.

“The idea that the heat is cap­tured by the ceil­ing and then dis­trib­uted across (the floor) re­ally helps re­duce the (en­ergy) out­put,” said Qual­trough.

“and then in the summer the heat that ac­cu­mu­lates in the roof can be vented to re­duce air-con­di­tion­ing ex­penses,” added as­sis­tant deputy pub­lic ser­vices min­is­ter rob Wright, who has helped lead the ren­o­va­tion project.

The build­ing was also de­signed to be more ac­ces­si­ble, in­clud­ing ramps into a new welcome cen­tre built be­low ground be­tween the west and cen­tre blocks where vis­i­tors will go through se­cu­rity screen­ing be­fore en­ter­ing.

The West block build­ing was con­structed be­tween 1859 and 1906 and in­cluded a cen­tre court­yard. in­clud­ing that green space in the ren­o­va­tion’s de­sign, along with four new lev­els be­low ground, has nearly dou­bled the build­ing’s us­able space to 26,000 square me­tres.

Sean Kil­PaTriCK/THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

The new tem­po­rary House of Commons is seen prior to a cer­e­mo­nial han­dover mark­ing the com­ple­tion of the his­toric restora­tion and mod­ern­iza­tion of the West Block and the new vis­i­tor welcome cen­tre on Par­lia­ment Hill in Ot­tawa.

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