NCC doesn’t want Parliament to disappear during rehab

Board members, mayor calls for tarps with photo of the building

Parliament Hill
Parliament Hill

The National Capital Commission signed off on guidelines for the massive overhaul of Centre Block on Parliament Hill and promised to do what they can to ensure the building remains a focal point.

The NCC gave the massive project going ahead late last month, which will require the building to be emptied out for a decade, to shore up the structure and complete restore and overhaul the building.

Jennifer Garrett, director general for the project with Public Services and Procurement Canada, said they don’t yet have all the details of how the construction will roll out.

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She said the building hasn’t had an overhaul like since it was rebuilt following the great fire of 1916 and the changes have to happen.

“It needs to be modernized to ensure it can support parliamentary functions for another 100 years,” she said.

Several NCC members expressed a desire that the building not be covered with scaffolding and plain white tarps, but instead the NCC consider a printed tarp that would include an image of the building.

Mayor Jim Watson said it’s important the city not lose the tourist draw.

“This is probably one of the most photographed buildings in the country. It’s our seat of government and our symbol of democracy and to have it wrapped with a tarp and some scaffolding for ten years is not acceptable.”

Watson said he knows there is a cost — a tarp around the post office building on Elgin and Spark cost the government $550,000 — but believes it’s worthwhile.

Garrett said they’ve made no decision on that idea, but are aware of the issue.

“We will use site construction and opportunities like the hoarding, and the tarping to communicate the project.”

She said throughout the project they intend to ensure Parliament Hill still has what brings so many people to it, including the changing of the guard, the Centennial flame and the great lawn.

Canada Day celebrations will have to move off the hill, however, after 2019.

This story originally appeared in Metro News.

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