By Robin MacLennan
Ottawa Construction News staff writer
Covid-19 has halted about 85 projects in Ottawa’s parliamentary district, including interior repairs to the East Block building.
Public Services and Procurement Canada has further scaled back ongoing construction work on a range of federal projects since Ontario announced its moratorium on construction in the province, but renovations to the historic Centre Block building continue to crawl ahead.
PSPC announced it would scale back operations after federal work-from-home orders were issued in mid-March, reducing work in occupied buildings to “emergency work only.” Exterior work and renovations in unoccupied buildings, like Centre Block, continued with modifications, including: staggering breaks, increased cleaning of equipment and shared facilities, reduced size of construction teams on site, face covering protocols and new handwashing facilities and hand sanitizer available on work sites.
Additional changes have been made, according to PSPC.
“Although federal projects do not fall under provincial authority, Public Services and Procurement Canada is reducing its construction activity across the province in the spirit of inter-jurisdictional co-operation and to demonstrate leadership in our collective efforts to flatten the curve in alignment with the advice of Canadian public health offices,” explained a statement from the department.
Projects currently shut down are classified into three general categories, according to PSPC.
Interior fit-ups: work to offices carved out for parliamentary administration at 50 O’Connor St., where interim office space has been leased to accommodate people displaced by work. Including “retail and operational space fit-up” in the Wellington Building, where work was ongoing to retail space along Sparks Street on the building’s ground floor.
Interior improvements: Drywall repairs and patchwork renovations inside the East Block building, which remains occupied by some 40 Senators and staff, have been paused, along with ceiling and radiator repairs in the Confederation Building.
Exterior repairs: Projects include window sealing work on the Justice Building, window replacement and repairs on the Confederation Building, and exterior renovations on the National Press Building at 150 Wellington St.
Work on the Centre Block and East Block will continue in unoccupied spaces along with “necessary repair and maintenance work required for the safe operations of parliamentary facilities.”
Inside Centre Block work is focused on demolition and abatement of hazardous substances on floors four through six. Outside, excavation work is underway to prepare for the final phase of Parliament Hill’s new underground Visitors’ Welcome Centre.
More than $770-million in contracts has been awarded related to the building’s renovation and $4.5-billion has been approved for the overall renovation.