The Centre Block on Parliament Hill is an icon of the Ottawa skyline and one that is easy for us to take for granted. It’s the seat of our federal government, home to the Peace Tower and the circular Library of Parliament and a beacon for tourists.
And it’s about to disappear for a decade.
As part of the lengthy and extensive renovations to the Parliament Buildings, the Centre Block is the next up to undergo repairs. That means it will be shut down, with the House of Commons moved to the West Block and the Senate shifting to the Government Conference Centre while the building eventually gets covered in scaffolding and construction tarps.
So, if you want to visit this icon of Ottawa, you better do so before September. Otherwise it’s going to be quite awhile before you can again. Sure, you’ll still be able to tour the temporary homes of the House of Commons and Senate, but it won’t be the same thing.
What’s happening to the Centre Block?
The building has not had major renovations since it was built following the devastating 1916 fire that destroyed the original building. It has outdated systems (think electrical systems that can’t handle modern technology, like computers) and suffers from crumbling mortar, damaged sculptures and stained glass, and aging water pipes. Earthquake proofing and security are also issues that must be addressed.
The Peace Tower will also be restored, and a visitor welcome centre will be built. This phase of the Parliamentary Precinct renovations is the costliest, estimated at around $1 billion. And it will take at least a decade to complete, which is why the House of Commons and Senate are moving.
But there’s still time to take in the historic building, which also includes the Hall of Honour, Rotunda and Commons and Senate foyers. And, of course, Parliament Hill itself will remain open during the renovations.
To visit the Centre Block before it closes, get details here.