$733 million Parliament Hill visitors centre visualized along with $75 million House of Commons Chamber renovation

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Ontario Construction News staff writer

MPs on the House of Commons’ Board of Internal Economy are leaning toward a $733 million renovation plan for Parliament Hill’s planned visitors centre, CBC has reported.

A report by consultants for the procedure and house affairs committee obtained by the broadcaster outlines three options for the visitors centre’s construction. When completed, the proposed centre would link Parliament Hill’s West, Centre and East Blocks together through a series of underground passages and meeting rooms.

The centre will include a visitor information centre for tour groups, a security screening area and Senate committee rooms.

The options range in cost between $552 million and $847 million.

CBCn reports that the Board of Internal Economy has recommended the “middle option”, with a cost of  $733 million, which would take another six months to complete.

The board’s report also identifies the preferred option for renovating the House of Commons Chamber.  This $75 million project would retain the chamber’s current character, while adding more seats.

MPs would sit closer together, either on stadium-style seating or in long benches similar to those used in the British House of Commons.

These plans were devised before the COVID-19 pandemic, which makes such close physical contact risky.

CBC News reports that it asked the board to explain how the $75 million renovation option would accommodate physical distancing requirements. “A board spokesperson that that the board’s choice of renovation options was made pre-pandemic and it hasn’t discussed the possible impact of COVID-19 on its decisions,” the broadcaster reported. “The report does warn, however, that the pandemic crisis may affect the cost of the renovations going forward.”

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