Rideau Hall grounds to get $2.5M facelift

Rideau Hall's front lawn is going to get a $2.5 million makeover in the coming year as contractors redesign a fountain's plumbing and install paving materials, radiant heating and irrigation connections.

The National Capital Commission is seeking competitive bids for a prime consultant to provide design services to rehabilitate the grounds in front of the governor-general's residence.

Challenges for contractors include allowing accessibility for the location, which receives up to 200,000 visitors a year, and maintaining the area's heritage status. In particular, the consultant needs to be familiar with "English landscape style" of the 19th century, the document states.

At the least, the consultant needs to have workers or subcontractors available with expertise in landscape architecture, fountain design and construction, electrical and mechanical engineering, and lighting.

The centrepiece of the project is rehabilitating the Terry Fox Fountain of Hope, which was designed by Public Works and put on the property in 1982.

"The electrical and mechanical systems are performing adequately. However, the above-ground portion of the fountain is in poor condition and in need of life-cycle replacement," the tender states.

"(It) is a good opportunity to better adapt the underground mechanical and electrical room to current functional needs and to achieve a better integration with the surrounding heritage landscape."

Contractors will need to accommodate winter maintenance and programmable water jets, and ensure the fountain can bear the load of annual Christmas decorations and ice sculptures that adorn the structure.

Some other parts of the contract include:

- Putting in place a security fence in consultation with the RCMP;

- Resolving "grade issues" on the Rideau Hall building foundation;

- Resurfacing paving materials;

- Installing radiant heating to remove the need for snow and ice removal in certain areas;

- Re-grading the arrival area without disturbing heritage trees planted there.

The deadline for the proposal, which is posted on contracting website Merx, is June 12. Design and construction documents are due in December. Construction is expected to take seven months and finish in summer 2013.

Rideau Hall was originally built in 1838 for Thomas McKay, according to Parks Canada. He was heavily involved in building the Rideau Canal as well as the city, which was then known as Bytown.

The Canadian government bought the property in 1868 for $82,000, and subsequently named it the official residence of the governor-general and his or her family. The complex was designated a heritage property in 1987.