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Government of Canada Preserves Heritage Buildings

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For immediate release

GATINEAU, Quebec, July 4, 2011 – Public Works and Government Services Canada announced today the awarding of a contract that will advance the restoration of West Block, one of the core parliamentary buildings on Parliament Hill.

The West Block is in an advanced state of deterioration. The contract will include a complete restoration of its stone masonry and replacement of its outdated and failing building systems, including mechanical, electrical and safety systems.  Significant work must also be completed so that the West Block will meet modern building codes for earthquake protection, environmental standards and accessibility.

The project also includes the construction of a major new infill structure in the building’s existing courtyard with both above and below ground space that will add approximately 50 per cent of permanent new space to the West Block.

The awarding of the construction management contract was based on a best value, competitive approach which was carried out in two stages. In the first stage, seven firms qualified to bid; five of the pre-qualified firms submitted bids in the second stage.

The entire process was observed by an independent Fairness Monitor who stated: “It is our professional judgment that the competitive acquisition process for the West Block Construction Management Contract we observed, was carried out in a fair, open, competitive and transparent manner.”

Public Works and Government Services awarded the first of a two-phase construction management contracts to PCL Constructors Canada Inc., Ottawa, Ontario for the complete restoration of the West Block. This first phase is valued at $358.5M and will complete approximately 60 per cent of the total project. The second component, which will begin upon approval of the remaining funding, will complete the project.

The completion date for the full restoration of the West Block is 2017.

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Construction Management Contract—West Block

The rehabilitation of the West Block is an important component of the Government of Canada’s Long Term Vision and Plan (LTVP) for the Parliamentary Precinct. The initiative was put in place by Public Works and Government Services Canada and its partners to ensure that our parliamentary heritage is preserved. The LTVP establishes a coordinated approach to the restoration and modernization of the Parliamentary Precinct—preserving the existing historic assets and providing new facilities and infrastructure to meet the needs of Parliament and the public.

As well as being the home of the Parliament of Canada, Parliament Hill is one of the most significant heritage sites in Canada.  The heritage Parliament Buildings, however, are in critical need of complete restoration.  The West Block is in an advanced state of deterioration and requires a stem-to-stern overhaul. The most pressing issue confronting the West Block, constructed in 1859, is the deteriorated load-bearing masonry. The structural integrity of the masonry must be restored and the seismic capabilities of the structure must be upgraded and reinforced. As well, all of the West Block’s building systems, now beyond their normal life expectancies, must be replaced to meet current codes and environmental standards.

West Block Restoration Work
Work on the West Block is well underway. The West Block was completely emptied in January 2011. A contract for demolition was awarded to Ellis Don Corporation in February 2011 and work began in March.

With the award of a construction management contract, the main construction phase will begin shortly. The contract, awarded to PCL Constructors Canada Inc., Ottawa, Ontario, is comprised of two components. The first part of the contract, valued at $358.5 M, will complete approximately 60 per cent of the major rehabilitation. The contract’s second component, which will complete the full restoration of the West Block, is subject to additional approvals.

The work to be done under the first component of the construction management contract includes: restoration of the masonry walls; replacement of all mechanical, electrical and safety systems; the construction of the courtyard infill and the rehabilitation of two of the West Block’s towers—the Mackenzie Tower (added in 1878) and the Laurier Tower (added in 1906).

The construction of the permanent courtyard infill will add approximately 50 per cent of new space to the West Block.  The new courtyard infill is key to meeting the need for additional space to support parliamentary operations and to enable the future rehabilitation of the Centre Block, which houses the House of Commons and the Senate chambers. The courtyard infill will serve initially as the House of Commons Chamber, so that the Centre Block can be emptied and restored. Once the Centre Block is fully restored, the courtyard infill will be transformed into much-needed committee rooms.

The complete restoration of the West Block is a labour-intensive and time-consuming process and requires a combination of artisans, stone masons and other skilled workers to carry out the work. For example, the restoration of the masonry requires the removal of almost half of the individual stones, numbering them for identification, repairing the core of the walls, and re-installing restored or new individual stones in the supporting masonry structure.

The rehabilitation of West Block is scheduled to be completed in 2017.

Construction Management
Large-scale construction projects, such as the rehabilitation of the West Block, lend themselves well to construction-management-type contracts.

The main reasons to engage a construction management firm on this large-scale and complex project is to enable multiple construction firms to work on the building at the same time while maintaining clear responsibility for health and safety. This is critical to completing this major project in a timely manner.

The hiring of a construction management firm provides the advantages of undertaking rehabilitation projects in a holistic manner. As many projects for the West Block rehabilitation will be undertaken at the same time, contributing to the acceleration of its completion, the construction management firm will ensure that these do not interfere with one another.

The construction management approach requires the engagement of small- and medium-sized businesses, as the construction management firm will publicly tender construction packages for trades including those that are specialized such as heritage masonry and copper roofing.

This approach was utilized for projects such as the War Museum, the Victoria Memorial Museum renovation and the Ottawa International Airport’s new terminal.

The Contract Process
A competitive procurement process was held in two stages.

  • In the first stage seven firms were prequalified to bid.
  • In the second stage, five firms submitted bids.
  • PCL Constructors Canada Inc, Ottawa, Ontario, was deemed compliant with the Request for Proposal and their bid provided best value to the Crown (highest technical score and lowest price).

As with all major contracts on Parliament Hill, an independent Fairness Monitor, whose role is to identify any potential fairness deficiencies, has overseen the entire competitive process to provide a third party assurance that the process was completed in a fair, open, competitive and transparent manner.  All Fairness Monitor reports are published on the Public Works and Government Services Canada’s Web site.


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