Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Clown House reno

When I first came to Ottawa, in 1994, Parliament was mulling a 10-year plan to renovate the buildings on the Hill. They need to be cleaned of asbestos, re-wired, re-plumbed, structurally re-inforced and the stonework needs major repairs. Since then, the Centre Block was re-pointed (the stones removed and re-cemented) and the library has been renovated but the rest of the work was never started. It's 150 years overdue. To be blunt, the original construction on the East and West blocks was done by crooks. The government, back in the 1850s and 1860s, hired its pals. They cut corners, built poor foundations, and, when the government ran out of money, walked away from the project for months, leaving the construction site to the elements. When the Centre Block burned in 1917, the demolition engineers examined the foundations and came to the conclusion the building would have fallen down soon anyway. Add to the shabby construction the fact that Parliament Hill is one of the more seismically active pales in eastern Canada (the hill itself is created by faulting; the river runs through a series of faults, and the entire City of Ottawa is built on a "graben", a rift valley of collapsed faults along a stillborn plate tectonic boundary). So what will be done. Well:

The Long Term Vision and Plan for the Parliamentary Precinct, which was developed in 2001, is being reviewed, said Pierre Manoni.

i.e. nothing, until someone gets brained by a falling rock.

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