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April 18, 2019

After Notre Dame blaze, team heading Centre Block renovation taking stock



As reported on CTV News, Public Services and Procurement Canada says the devastating fire that badly damaged Paris’ iconic and centuries old Notre Dame cathedral this week prompted the department to pause and take stock of the measures they have in place to protect Centre Block during its likely decade-long renovation.

“Any time that an incident like this occurs, and this was a real tragedy, you obviously pause and take stock,” said assistant deputy minister for the parliamentary precinct Rob Wright.

The latest estimates from France are that the historic church and widely popular tourist attraction will be closed for five or six years in order to repair the damage done by the fire that burned for hours. In Ottawa, the focus is on making sure the extensive repairs that are set to be conducted in the building seen as the crown jewel of Ottawa’s parliamentary precinct.

We have and I’m very confident of the approaches that we’ve put in place to ensure that during this major restoration, modernization project that we have all the procedures and protocols in place to ensure that health and safety is the number one priority,” said Wright.

Among the measures Wright referenced: immediate access for firefighters to water inside the building, and installing temporary sprinkler systems in any scaffolding that will be going up. In a written statement the department added that other fire prevention measures such as using fire-retardant materials, and installing heat detection equipment will be taken, and more closely monitored when work that creates heat or spark is being conducted.

“When you do have an emergency situation, minutes matter so we take great care to ensure that we have the belts and suspenders in place to ensure that we’re able to detect, and we are able to respond if there are any issues along the way,” Wright said.

MPs and Senators moved out of Centre Block at the end of last year, and into their new homes of West Block and the Government Conference Centre respectively. There, temporary House of Commons and Senate chambers have been constructed, where the legislative work of the federal government will be conducted for the next decade or so, as Cente Block gets a makeover.

The major construction and modernization project will be the first complete renovation since the building was completed in 1927. It’ll include aesthetic touchups but also ensuring the building is seismically sound, removing asbestos from the walls, and updating the plumbing.

Keep reading on CTV News


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