A report from Auditor General Karen Hogan tabled in the House of Commons found that Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) used flexible approaches to effectively manage the planning, design, and early construction phases of the rehabilitation of Parliament’s Centre Block. (No. 16 on ReNew’s Top100 Projects report.)

In 2021, the cost of construction was estimated at $4.5 billion to $5 billion by the program’s completion date in 2030–31.

The audit found that decision making on some user requirements by the parliamentary partners—the House of Commons, the Senate of Canada, the Library of Parliament, and the Parliamentary Protective Service—remained fragmented. As a result, planning decisions on important user requirements, such as security, were delayed. To keep the rehabilitation program moving forward, Public Services and Procurement Canada used a flexible approach to manage the scheduling of activities. For example, despite not having a final decision about the size of the new Parliament Welcome Centre, the department got parliamentary partners’ agreement to begin excavation activities. The department also effectively managed costs through the initial phases of the rehabilitation program. Spending to date has been under approved amounts. The bulk of spending will take place in the coming years as construction work ramps up.

The audit also found that the department consulted with stakeholders, experts, and parliamentary partners to develop the scope of the rehabilitation program. This included consultations to incorporate sustainability, accessibility, and inclusivity elements while balancing the heritage attributes of the building and site, the visitor experience, the security, and the cultural and Indigenous values. Consultations are an important part of making sure that once renovated, the Parliament buildings and grounds are inclusive and capture the diversity of all of the peoples in Canada.

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“Given the size and complexity of this undertaking, a streamlined decision-making process will be required to continue effectively managing the costs and timelines of the rehabilitation program, as construction work accelerates between now and the planned completion date of 2030–31,” said Hogan.

The Centre Block was built between 1916, when fire destroyed the original building, and 1927, and it has housed the House of Commons and the Senate of Canada since 1922. It has had only minor repairs since then.

Assessments of the Centre Block building by Public Services and Procurement Canada show many issues, such as a decaying structure, failing building systems (like mechanical and electrical), and hazardous material on site.

The rehabilitation of the Centre Block building and the construction of the Parliament Welcome Centre started in 2016 and has a construction completion date of 2030 to 2031, with the aim of reopening 1 year later. This rehabilitation program is a large and complex project of a historic building.

The estimated cost of construction, established in 2021, is $4.5 billion to $5 billion to rehabilitate the Centre Block and build the Parliament Welcome Centre.

Featured image: (PSPC)

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