Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
Good morning, honourable members.
Thank you for inviting us.
I am here this morning with Mr. Ezio DiMillo, the director general responsible for the major crown projects in the parliamentary precinct.
I appreciate this opportunity to update you on the program to preserve and rehabilitate Canada's historic Parliament Buildings.
I last appeared before this committee in November 2013 to speak specifically about the long-term vision and plan for the parliamentary precinct, also known as the LTVP. Since then, significant progress has been made. I am pleased to report that all major projects continue to be on time and on budget.
I will go into further detail in a moment, but I see that there are new members at the table. Congratulations to all.
Allow me to first provide some background to the LTVP. The LTVP is an overall strategy designed to address four main elements, namely, the deterioration of the buildings, health and safety risks, the shortage of functional space, and evolving security needs.
The LTVP was initially approved in 2001 and then revised in 2007. It is based on five-year programs of work. This approach permits flexibility in planning and implementation, and allows the government to respond to changing priorities. It also permits greater precision in determining costs and schedules.
The LTVP is focused on rehabilitating the three main Parliament Buildings, the West, Centre, and East Blocks, with the objective of getting to Centre Block before building systems are projected to be in critical risk of failure in 2019. The LTVP requires managing a number of interdependent and concurrent projects, as illustrated in the work sequencing map.
Each five year program of work focuses on preparing for the next. The first is focused on relocating parliamentary functions and parliamentary administration, and establishing interim accommodations for members and functions from West Block. The second is focused on rehabilitating the West Block and establishing interim accommodations for members of the Senate. The third will focus mainly on Centre Block.
Between the cranes, tarps, and scaffolding, it may be difficult to see the progress being made. Over and above the work you see today 19 major projects have been completed since 2004, paving the way for the major rehabilitation of the Parliament Buildings currently under way. In the delivery of these projects we have managed to contain costs and save close to $40 million.
Here are some examples. The food production facility was completed in 2009, six months ahead of schedule and $6.3 million under budget. The Valour Building, on Sparks Street just east of O'Connor, was completed in 2010 on time and $6.4 million under budget. And in 2013, we completed enhancements to the perimeter security, including the retractable bollards that now stand at every entry point to Parliament Hill.
Let me turn now to some of the major projects under way in the order of their expected date of completion.
First would be the transformation of the former Bank of Montreal into the Sir John A. Macdonald Building. This will put to good use a heritage crown asset. The newly constructed annex to the heritage building more than doubles the amount of usable space. The building will house the Confederation Room, which is being permanently relocated from the West Block for ceremonial duties as well as smaller meeting spaces. This facility will be substantially complete in just a couple of weeks.
A short distance down the block, the Wellington Building is about three-quarters finished, and is on track to be completed in 2016. Once rehabilitated, the heritage building will provide accommodation for 70 parliamentary offices and 10 committee rooms. I do invite you to have a look at the pictures if you can.
Work on the West Block, a building that was on the critical list when work began in 2011, has passed the halfway mark to completion, expected in 2017. The result will be a modern facility, fit for Parliament in a modern age. This heritage building is being restored both inside and out.
The interim House of Commons chamber will be constructed in an infill, in what was previously an unused courtyard. The infill will increase the building's functional space by nearly 50% as of 2017. After the House of Commons chamber returns to a rehabilitated Centre Block, we expect that the interim chamber will be converted to committee space.
In conjunction with this work, a new visitor welcome centre is also being constructed between the West and Centre blocks. This will be a new permanent entrance to Parliament that will allow for enhanced security screening of those visiting or working on the Hill.
We are also in the early stages of work on the Government Conference Centre. It will be fitted out for interim use by the Senate. When the Senate moves back to the Centre Block, the Conference Centre will remain in PWGSC's portfolio as a fully functional asset. That project is slated for completion in 2018.
What about East Block?
The rehabilitation of the East Block's oldest exterior wing, known as the 1867 Wing, is also in the very early stages. A seismic design for all of the East Block will be completed, followed by the rehabilitation of the wing's masonry, roofing, and windows. The remainder of the East Block will be worked on following the completion of the Centre Block project.
Again, each one of these projects is on time and on budget. Since 2006, the government has invested $1.1 billion in the rehabilitation of the parliamentary precinct. An additional $1.6-billion investment for work through to 2018 has been approved.
We are now focused on planning for the rehabilitation of the Centre Block. In March of this year, we began a consultation process and engaged with architectural, engineering, and construction associations on the future procurement of major contracts. The feedback we received will be used to develop future requests for proposals. We remain on track to empty the building in 2018.
I would be happy to answer questions you may have on the progress to date for Centre Block.
Let me turn now to security on Parliament Hill.
In every project it delivers in the parliamentary precinct, my department works with the RCMP and with the Senate, the House of Commons, and the Library of Parliament to implement their security requirements. The bollards, security cameras and the new guard huts at the main entrance to the Centre Block are examples of such requirements.
We will continue to work with a unified security force and our parliamentary partners in delivering projects that meet their requirements.
Finally, allow me to underline the strong oversight and accountability framework that guides our work. This includes a framework for solid, third-party oversight encompassing contracts, schedules, and costs, as well as quality and design, quarterly and annual reports to the Minister of Public Works and Government Services and to the Treasury Board Secretariat, and internal and external audits and evaluations.
Both the Auditor General and the private sector have observed that PWGSC has in place sound project management practices for the rehabilitation of the precinct. An independent audit in 2012 concluded that sound practices, systems, controls, and outputs were in place in its assessment of six major crown projects.
Those who, as all of you do, work every day within the parliamentary precinct do not have to look very hard to appreciate that this is a program of great scope and vast complexity. Let me assure you that the responsibility of preserving these heritage buildings and making sure they realize their full potential is not taken lightly. Safety, security, functionality, and fiscal responsibility are of prime importance. Quality construction and attention to the smallest detail, balanced with sound stewardship decisions, is of the essence. These buildings have been entrusted to us by the generations that came before us. We are making sure they are preserved for the Canadians of tomorrow, and we remain mindful that every dollar spent counts and must be accounted for.
I look forward to demonstrating the intricacies of the LTVP during our tour of the West Block following your questions.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.