Deteriorating masonry complicates Province House repairs

Ryan Ross
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Mariah Hughes, Parks Canada stands at the fence surrounding Province House.

Improvements to Province House have become more complicated after inspections found masonry on the third floor walls had deteriorated more than expected.

Jewel Cunningham, field unit superintendent with Parks Canada, said consultants were looking at the interior of the masonry walls when they learned water had been infiltrating deeper than initially thought.

"That's why we had greater deterioration," she said.

In August 2011, federal Environment Minister Peter Kent visited Province House and announced $2 million in funding for repairs to the 165-year-old building's foundation, masonry and roof.

Cunninghan said work was done on the foundation through the summer and repairs on the masonry were supposed to be the next step, but the unexpected deterioration has delayed that part of the project.

Cunningham said Parks Canada set up fencing around Province House as a precaution in October and for public safety.

"We knew we had to do further investigation," she said.

That investigation took place in mid-October and Cunningham said the first signs of more serious deterioration were on the third floor.

Parks Canada only has a preliminary report from the consultant so far, but it found there weren't any problems on the first or second floor, she said.

"There's been no surprises on that front."

Cunningham said the fencing will stay up until the work is done on the third floor and the goal is to finish all the work on Province House by 2014.

As for the repair budget, Cunningham said Parks Canada is still working with the $2 million, but if there is a need for more funding later on it's something that will be addressed at a later date.

"At this point in time we're still OK," she said.

Cunningham said the extra work needed to fix the masonry could impact the remaining repairs, but despite the latest problems the consultant determined Province House is still structurally sound.

"They've determined at this point that we can proceed and use the building for the sitting of the legislature, for the continued use that we normally do in the building," she said.

Cunningham said some work will be done over the next few weeks in one area on the third floor, but it won't interfere with the legislature.

There may be an impact on operations at Province House once the next session is over, depending on how much work needs to be done and how much time there is to do it, she said.

"I think there's certainly a preference that we're going to fit the work that needs to be done in between the two sittings."

Province House is unique in that it is a working legislature and a national historic site Parks Canada maintains thanks to an agreement the federal and P.E.I. governments signed in 1974.

Charles MacKay, clerk of the legislative assembly, said he doesn't expect the repair work to have much of an impact on the working of the legislature when the next session starts Tuesday.

He said the biggest impact will be in the photocopier room where the photocopier had to be moved into the hall because of a temporary wall built as part of the repair work.

"As far as I know at this stage it's business as usual," he said.

rross@theguardian.pe.ca

twitter.com/ryanrross

Organizations: Province House, Parks Canada

Geographic location: P.E.I.

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Recent comments

  • IslanderRes
    November 09, 2012 - 14:48

    This is like an ironic metaphor of how this province is falling apart.

  • pei should take it over
    November 09, 2012 - 09:36

    It's a joke that the provincial legislature of a province is owned by the federal government. And that same province, instead of owning and maintaining that legislature, is considering tapping that same federal government to construct a friggin' office building across the street for MLAs so that the Supreme Court can move into the Coles Building. Meanwhile, the archives and our precious historic documents languish in the attic. One word: pathetic

  • Sylvia
    November 09, 2012 - 07:11

    Province House is still structurally sound according to the consultant. I wish I could say the same for this government. I think their foundation has deteriorated and has crumbled into dust.

  • No Accountability
    November 09, 2012 - 07:07

    While we're at it, can we install bars in the windows and seal shut the doors?

  • jakolin
    November 09, 2012 - 07:05

    Won't they be renovating the Homburg into condos, or better yet more senior housing, so the yournger generation that needs housing decides to move away with their young families, leaving an ever more aging population, and the need for more health spending on our aging population! No offence to our beloved seniors I love you Nana! But we have to start thinking long term Mr. Premier, not just lining the pockets of a few people now! We want to keep families here, I think Don has a great idea, yes the province house is an integral part of our history, but it is just a building, why not do something practical, and use a building that not only needs people in it, but is otherwise going to sit idle, like the Dynasty Spa!! Look where our money went there people!!!???

  • Life's metaphor?
    November 09, 2012 - 06:59

    Does life like metaphors or what? Regardless of your political stripe - consider choosing to attend the rally for better government Monday, November 12th @ 2:00 at OUR Legislature. This is not an anti-Liberal rally (I am a Liberal) it's a simple statement that Islanders deserve real transparency and authentic involvement in the decisions that directly impact us. The evidence is clear, Islanders have recently witnessed, "signs of more serious deterioration". If we do nothing, we deserve that deterioration. But, don't our children and grand-children deserve better?

  • Masonry can be easily repaired
    November 08, 2012 - 22:39

    Masonry and brickwork is the least of our trouble. The morally bankrupt actions of a majority government that has run the biggest scandal in Canadian history is the tough decay to repair. It appears a whole city of accountants and lawyers conspired with a sitting government to collectively overlook laws and certainly ethics while enriching themselves and their selected friends to steal millions of dollars.......the building looks fine now Charlie its just the people using the building we should be more focused on at this point. Given the circumstances. thanks eh

  • don
    November 08, 2012 - 22:07

    well i think to save money they should tear the place down and buy the homburg hotel it would be more fitting for the ruler of PEI to have his office on the top floor the best in the place.