Parliament Hill barricades to cost $9M

The government is planning a $9-million barricade system to block vehicles from Parliament Hill.

Movable barriers needed to control vehicle access

A man makes his way toward Parliament Hill next to the wrought-iron Queen's gate on Monday, Sept. 19, 2011. A plan to improve Hill security will see retractable barriers installed at the gate's vehicle entrance. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

Parliament Hill is stepping up security in 2012, with $9 million in security upgrades planned for its entrance gates.

The changes will include retractable bollards as well as vehicle barriers and security cameras at four existing vehicle entrances. Two other openings will be made smaller by restoring portions of the heritage wall, a spokesman for Public Works and Government Services Canada said in an email.

Currently, the RCMP rely on "a combination of concrete blocks, removable fences, chains and RCMP vehicles at the gates to Parliament Hill," Sebastien Bois said.

The government wants to install the barriers at all vehicle and pedestrian entry points to the Hill, according to a request for proposals posted online.

"Some bollard systems will be fixed. Other bollard systems will be retractable allowing authorized vehicles, such as parliamentary transportation buses, access to Parliament Hill," the notice says.

The barriers must be able to withstand "significant physical impact loads" and systems must operate continuously, "under any circumstance." The systems also require emergency power and remote monitoring and control. 

The request for proposals estimates the construction cost at $9 million, including contingencies but not including HST. The contract award notice, announcing engineering firm Dessau as the bid winner, says the engineering will cost just over $1.5 million.

Pedestrian access won't be restricted

Public vehicle access is already restricted on Parliament Hill, with one entrance along Wellington used by motorcades carrying dignitaries, and another one where authorized vehicles pass an RCMP station before proceeding.

The plan is to close vehicle access at two little-used entrances on Wellington Street, which runs in front of Parliament Hill. The stone wall bordering the street will be extended across the east and west gates, which sit a few metres south of the Centennial Flame at the intersection with Metcalfe Street. The Queen's gate, which is directly below the Centennial Flame and opens to the path leading directly to Centre Block, will have retractable bollards and video surveillance installed.

The vehicle entrances at the intersection of Wellington and Bank Street, as well as the Elgin gate that sits in front of East Block, will also get retractable bollards and video surveillance.

There are already video cameras on the Hill, including some pointed at entrances, but the RCMP won't provide details for security reasons.

Bois said the new measures won't change pedestrian access to the Hill.

"Pedestrian access will remain open at all these locations and will not be restricted by these new measures," he said.

Public Works, House of Commons and Senate security and the RCMP work together on Parliament Hill security.

"As part of the long-term vision and plan the security partners on the Hill have identified the Perimeter Security Project as a key priority to create a safe and accessible environment on Parliament Hill," Bois said.

A spokeswoman for the RCMP wouldn't say whether there was a specific incident that prompted the upgrade.

"We strive to continuously improve the security of the precinct in consultation with our partners from the Senate and House of Commons security," Sgt. Julie Gagnon wrote in an email.

"The enhancements to our security plan are necessary to complement existing measures currently in place. The RCMP recognizes the need to balance the public's right to access and the security of our parliamentarians and public based on current and future threats."