Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his cabinet have approved an extensive new long-term plan for renovation and reconstruction of the aged and decaying buildings on Parliament Hill.
But the Department of Public Works says the plan will remain secret until September, when the government will also reveal a new timetable for vacating MPs and Commons staff from the crumbling and asbestos-ridden West Block.
Meanwhile, as tourists flock to the Hill this summer, even the deteriorated conditions of pedestrian areas have proven dangerous. A section of stone sidewalk directly under the Peace Tower is now blocked off with a steel fence after an elderly woman recently stumbled on a section that had become loose and struck her head.
The government has now budgeted $13.4 million for an "emergency" stabilization and restoration project for the southeast tower of the West Block alone, Ms. Brosseau said in another e-mail.
A further $6.5 million has already been spent simply erecting scaffolding and protective wrapping -- to protect pedestrians and cars from falling rock or mortar -- on three other West Block towers. The reconstruction is yet to begin, and the cost of the scaffolding and wrapping nets alone, along with supportive steel cables around the towers, suggests the eventual cost of reconstruction will be enormous.
Key word "enormous" cost. The last time I was in Ottawa, I remember the Parliament building being shrouded in scaffolding, which apparently lasted for quite some time. As a student of history, I can appreciate the automatic desire to repair, renovate, re-tool, update, re-model, modernize, afterall the building is a key national symbol. However, if you can detach yourself from the romantic for a minute, I think it an open question whether the nation is better served by a new building, that is naturally equipped to deal with the modern circumstance.
Much of the history could be salvaged within a new structure, not to mention the practical, with a government building able to accomodate growth. Is it better to have structures in perpetual repair? I'm just throwing this opinion out there, should we start fresh?