Contingency plan in place for Province House closure

Ryan Ross
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Province House in Charlottetown during renovation in November 2013.

Legislators would sit in the Pope Room at the Coles Building next door

With Province House facing years of repairs and the potential for a lengthy closure, it could leave P.E.I.’s legislative assembly temporarily without a home.

But if the time comes that Province House does close while MLAs are sitting, there is a back-up plan in place.

Charles MacKay, clerk of the legislative assembly, said although he doesn’t expect it will be necessary this spring, there is an emergency plan that would see MLAs sit in the Pope Room at the Coles Building next door to Province House.

“That’s ready to swing into action if we should require it,” he said.

Province House has been closed for several weeks after a chunk of plaster fell from the ceiling in the latest of a string of issues causing problems in the historic building.

An engineer’s report that Parks Canada commissioned determined repairs could take more than three years to complete and might require the building to remain empty for an extended period of time.

CLICK HERE FOR MORE ON PROVINCE HOUSE'S STRUCTURAL ISSUES

Premier Robert Ghiz also recently told The Guardian he won’t be surprised if Province House closes for a couple of years because of the restoration work.

The legislative assembly would still have to sit during that time.

MLAs already use the Coles Building, which houses the legislative library, government and opposition caucus offices, and the Pope Room where committee meetings are held. Those committee meetings don’t usually see more than a dozen people in the room, including MLAs, staff and members of the public.

In Province House, the floor of the legislative assembly houses MLAs, pages, house staff and the Speaker’s chair.

There is also space behind the rail for the media while members of the public sit in the gallery overlooking the proceedings.

MacKay said the Pope Room is wired for sound and the legislative assembly would have to take over some of the space on the first floor to make sure all the necessary services can be provided.

There would also be accommodations made for the media and a public gallery, MacKay said.

“There’s no question it would be tight,” he said.

MacKay said the contingency plan was developed three or four years ago as part of the legislative assembly’s emergency preparedness efforts in case there was ever a need, such as a closure due to a natural disaster.

“We decided that we should develop a plan at that time and came up with this plan to move the legislature in fairly short order if required,” he said.

As for the possibility of the legislative assembly leaving Province House for an extended period of time to accommodate further restoration work, MacKay said there have been some discussions about it but nothing has been confirmed.

“It’s a bit far off but it’s certainly in the back of our minds, there’s no question about that.”

 

rross@theguardian.pe.ca

twitter.com/ryanrross

Organizations: Province House, Coles Building, Parks Canada The Guardian

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  • Sorry but
    February 24, 2014 - 20:48

    A lot of $ went into the building the last year or so and therefore my question is...did anyone not have an engineer do a building inspection on the place first? Amazing how this Liberal govt fails so much...in all ways. Amazing how many buildings on this island are built / repaired etc & ...fail. Why does Ghiz govt continue to sink this province into the ground. Maybe this building is trying to tell the Ghiz govt something. Spirits from the past coming back to say what they think of the island sinking...down...down.... Sad really. A lovely little garden of the gulf ruined by a greedy Liberal govt, and a Conservative opposition who can't pull their pants up & get on the job to get it right. Also, this province has the highest $ rates to live, and most live on pokey or seasonal minimum wage, and many work 2-3 jobs to make ends meet. HST has NOT helped, I might add. May parents have to go off island out west to make a living & therefore it means families suffer. PEI has a high cancer rate killing us all off. With little help doctors or specialists wise. Most islanders have to go off island to get a lot of medical help. One person told me a certain kind of specialist appt , off island, because there isn't one on the island, takes about 8 mos to get if u are lucky. Sometimes we may have to let old buildings go. Sometimes $ for people are more important. Sometimes elected govt officials need to GET IT RIGHT. Even if they are left. At this rate, PEI is slowly dying and that is a very very sad thing.

    • Nice try
      February 25, 2014 - 10:03

      I know you can't resist blaming the 'government' for everything wrong in your life. But just so you know- this is a Feferal owned building - therefore if is Parks Canada that are not doing their job

  • Fitz
    February 24, 2014 - 17:16

    Tear it down and build a new building at a 1/4 the cost. Don't forget to tell the mla,s to get out

  • don
    February 24, 2014 - 14:46

    i guess it is time to tear the old place down as it is over 50 years old. as the health minister said him self about one of the old health buildings it was over 50 years old and time for a new one. plus it gives the fav liberal friend another contract. so to me any building over 50 years old tear it down as the health minister knows all.

  • gary
    February 24, 2014 - 11:58

    This might be a good opportunity to reduce the number of MLAs. We really don't need 27. We could do with 15 or so. Chop the number of ridings by 10. You'll have room to meet in a board room somewhere. And think of the savings!

    • don
      February 24, 2014 - 14:48

      i agree with you but ch'town will need 10 0f those 15 you suggest. as it is the biggest city in canada. and has 2 of the most powerful men in canada.