© Guardian photo
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.