Thank you, Madam Chair.
Thank you for the opportunity to appear and speak about how we at Public Services and Procurement Canada are successfully managing heritage buildings in our portfolio.
I'm happy to share with you the important work we have undertaken and are continuing to undertake at PSPC to preserve, use, and ensure the adaptive reuse of both the classified and recognized heritage buildings for which we are responsible and accountable.
Heritage, an inheritance from the past, is an important component of our culture as a nation. Protecting and preserving our natural and cultural heritage for the benefit of present and future generations is a fundamental component of our contribution to the sustainable development of our society and our country.
Our department acts as steward for various public works such as buildings, bridges, and dams, and national treasures such as the parliamentary precinct and other heritage assets across Canada. Of course, I will give the opportunity to my colleague Rob Wright, assistant deputy minister of the parliamentary precinct branch, to present the valuable work done by his team on Parliament Hill.
First of all, I want to underline that what you may think of when heritage implications kick in is probably much broader than you would have anticipated in relation to the federal context. The reason is that each building over 40 years of age is subject to evaluation for its potential heritage characteristics. Within the Public Service and Procurement Canada portfolio, many of our crown-owned complexes were built over 40 years ago. As a result, a large portion of our portfolio will, in the near future, be subject to evaluation by the federal heritage buildings review office of Parks Canada. This represents a significant amount of property and infrastructure.
PSPC's real estate portfolio is one of the largest in Canada, covering almost 7 million square meters. The federal built heritage includes sites, structures, and monuments that have recognized historical value, such as buildings, houses, battlefields, forts, archaeological sites, cultural landscapes, canals, and historical districts. The federal government's basic inventory of built heritage consists of about 1,300 federal heritage buildings and 206 national historic sites, of which PSPC is the custodian of 148 designated assets.
For decades, PSPC has provided, and continues to provide, federal departments and agencies with services that support the management and protection of Canada's federally owned heritage buildings, landscapes, and engineering works. We use our unique expertise and knowledge of both traditional and innovative technologies to provide specialized, multidisciplinary, professional, and technical expertise to assist custodians and conserve our nation's heritage.
Based on our mandate, we have accumulated sound experience in managing built heritage, and I believe PSPC has an important role to play in sharing what we have learned around heritage conservation services within the federal government community. Our experience to date has also influenced how we are preparing to manage our heritage activities into the future. We are taking a proactive approach and have already integrated our environmental and heritage services, as these groups must work closely together to ensure the efficiency and effectiveness of the heritage portion of the PSPC portfolio.
We provide three main services in this regard.
First, in terms of heritage conservation advisory services, we provide conservation advice in the fields of architecture, structural engineering, landscape architecture, and material conservation. We define qualifications required for consultants and contractors who undertake conservation work, and assist with pre-qualification processes, managing standing offers, and incorporating conservation considerations into contractual documentation. We also assist with submissions to regulatory bodies such as the federal heritage buildings review office of Parks Canada, or the National Capital Commission, by providing strategic advice and guidance.
Second, in terms of heritage conservation documentation services, we provide heritage recordings, which are measurable electronic drawings, photographs, and models that help with understanding the condition and construction of an historic place. We create a host of guidance documents to explain the heritage designation of a property, including conservation briefs, conservation guidelines, historic inventories, and master plans. We conduct assessments of the condition of the asset to achieve a detailed technical understanding of its physical and historical integrity.
Third, in terms of heritage conservation compliance support services, we help federal departments and agencies comply with their heritage conservation responsibilities under the Treasury Board policy for the management of real property. We prepare written compliance reviews that analyze a particular intervention to determine its level of compliance with established conservation policies, standards, and guidelines, including reviews of intervention in support of Parks Canada's regulatory role, heritage conservation reviews of planned proposals for custodians of federal heritage buildings or national historic sites, and technical authority reviews of work proposed on historic assets to ensure compliance with real property contract requirements.
It's important to mention that within PSPC we have taken additional steps to ensure that environmental sustainability and heritage considerations are integrated into our processes and also that they are part of our holistic decision-making approach.
As well, by creating a sound heritage buildings policy framework, we have clearly identified the roles and responsibilities, and established the implementation processes needed to support PSPC's compliance with the heritage-specific requirements of the Treasury Board's policy instruments.
These requirements, in place to protect the heritage character of federal buildings, are to be met while respecting other federal government objectives, such as accessibility, sustainable development, and life-cycle management. Some of these include the policy on the stewardship of federal heritage buildings and the national project management system policy for managing heritage properties projects.
We are going even further by developing specific benchmarks and performance measures for the condition of our heritage buildings. We will begin reporting to Parliament and to Canadians in 2018 on the condition of heritage buildings and improvements to their condition as a result of management activities. Having this information to inform our investment decision-making will support the continual improvement and effective stewardship of our heritage.
I am proud of all the work we have done to date in finding the right balance between maintaining the heritage aspects of our portfolio and adapting buildings for more modern uses and requirements. However, this process has certainly led us through a series of opportunities and challenges as we navigate the current legislative framework that governs built heritage.
It's important to mention that the mandate "to protect the nationally significant examples of Canada's natural and cultural heritage in national parks, national historic sites, national marine conservation areas, and related heritage areas" belongs to the Parks Canada Agency, as affirmed in the Parks Canada Agency Act of 1998. As a result, PSPC's mandate is to manage and preserve the heritage buildings that are part of the PSPC portfolio.
Currently, in order to fulfill our mandate responsibilities, we're applying a framework consisting of several layers of policies and a federal act. I'll take some time to enumerate just what this framework consists of, which we are navigating.
In the absence of a federal act specifically regulating heritage buildings, we are governed by the Federal Real Property and Federal Immovables Act. We also follow the Treasury Board policy instruments, including the policy on management of real property, the directive on the sale of transfer or surplus real property, and the guide to the management of real property.
What this means for PSPC is that we are seeking conservation advice from Parks Canada on heritage issues. We are additionally consulting the federal heritage buildings review office of Parks Canada on classified and recognized buildings. Finally, we are using best efforts to arrange for appropriate alternative uses for underutilized or surplus heritage buildings from our portfolio.
The federal heritage buildings review office's evaluation criteria are based on international conservation principles as well as historical associations, the architecture, and environmental considerations. As a final step, the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change Canada is responsible for approving the heritage designation of federal buildings.
As you can see, there are many factors at play that PSPC as an organization must consider in managing the built heritage under our purview, and in many cases applying all these factors has an impact on the timelines of projects as well increasing their costs.
We can likely all agree that throughout the years, heritage conservation philosophy and practices have evolved to focus more on adaptive reuse of heritage buildings, rather than simply conserving them as they are. This gives me the opportunity to say that the management of the heritage buildings portion of our portfolio is a very sensitive and complex endeavour, and we have some challenges to address while making our best efforts to turn them into opportunities for the benefit of Canadians.
The source of our challenges is often based on heritage preservation requirements that may conflict with contemporary users' needs, such as accessibility, thermal comfort, and security, among others.
Due to time constraints, I will mention briefly two of these challenges.
The interdisciplinary character of the heritage buildings management requires a clear and strong portfolio management approach, including various technical competencies and expertise from architects and engineers who specialize in heritage buildings, as well as the involvement of social sciences representatives such as historians, sociologists, and cultural ethnologists. We ensure that we have teams in our organizations that employ the brightest specialists to be involved in the protection and the management of our heritage buildings.
In terms of greenhouse gas emissions reductions, environment, and sustainable development, our current challenge is to find the most efficient and effective measures to achieve a carbon-neutral heritage building. However, at the same time, this challenge provides us with a unique opportunity to integrate the synergy of heritage conservation and sustainable development into mutually beneficial goals and results.
Despite this, PSPC has had a number of success stories, and I am pleased to share a few of those with you today.
The West Memorial Building is a classified federal heritage building and World War II memorial. PSPC experts have been actively planning ahead in view of improving the building's thermal performance while protecting its important heritage value, as part of it's upcoming rehabilitation.
The Lester B. Pearson Building was built in 1970-73 to house the national headquarters of the former department of external affairs, currently Global Affairs Canada. Designed in the late-modern architectural style, this building has been designated a classified federal heritage building. The building will be undergoing a major rehabilitation and has been identified as a showcase project to demonstrate innovative solutions and leadership in the field of sustainability.
Finally, there is the St. Andrews lock and dam, which includes the 270-metre long Caméré Curtain Bridge Dam, spanning the Red River at Lockport, Manitoba. Built in 1907-10 by the Department of Public Works, it was designated a national historic site of Canada, and in 1990, a national historic civil engineering site by the Canadian Society for Civil Engineering. The heritage value of this site is carried in the design and materials of the structure itself, in that this engineering work is perhaps the only surviving moveable dam of its type in the world.
It is important to note that these successes are largely based on our interdepartmental collaboration with Parks Canada Agency, the Federal Heritage Buildings Review Office of Parks Canada, the National Research Council, the departments of Environment and Climate Change Canada and Natural Resources Canada, and a large number of other federal organizations.
In conclusion, despite some objective challenges regarding the use and reuse of heritage buildings within our departmental mandate, PSPC is committed to, first, manage and protect the heritage buildings in our portfolio based on the highest national and international standards. Second, we are committed to serve as a federal example of leadership for the federal family in this area. Third, we are committed to preserve our built cultural heritage for the benefit of present and future generations. Finally, we are committed to integrate an adaptive reuse approach, which will allow heritage buildings to support the government's agenda.
Thank you. I'll be pleased to answer questions after Rob speaks.