Temporary MP offices cost $72M

CBC News has learned Canadian taxpayers are shelling out $72 million for three temporary meeting rooms and 62 MPs' offices.

Canadian taxpayers are shelling out $72 million for three temporary meeting rooms and 62 MPs’ offices, CBC News has learned. 

The West Block is getting a facelift, as part of an extreme makeover at Parliament Hill. ((Canadian Press))
The roughly $1 million cost per "interim office" includes all new furniture and decor for the lucky MPs involved in the temporary move.

The politicians and their staff are being relocated into their spiffy new interim offices in January to allow for renovations to their existing digs in the West Block of the Parliament Buildings.

Those renovations are part of a $5-billion extreme makeover of Parliament Hill, a project that is already about a decade late and many times over budget.

The West Block restorations are expected to take about five years, after which the 62 temporary MPs’ offices will be moved back to the Hill.

In the meantime, the MPs and their staffers won’t be exactly roughing it in school portables.

Their new offices are located in the Promenade building, a 12-storey downtown office tower on Sparks Street, less than a block from Parliament Hill.

The building has been gutted and upgraded to standards to which most Canadian office workers would surely love to aspire.

Each office houses an MP and three staffers in about 1,000 square feet of wood, tile, plush carpet, walls of glass, and all new high-end furnishings.

By the time the $5-billion Hill renovation is complete, taxpayers will have bought all MPs and senators completely new office furniture so they'll all have the same stuff.

Creature comforts abound in suites

According to what little information is being provided by the Department of Public Works, the MPs’ suites "will meet a high level of speech security, and include extensive IT, multimedia and security provisions."

The three new temporary meeting rooms for parliamentary committees aren’t too shabby, either. The rooms are permeated with the smell of magnificent wood panelling that lines the walls and ceilings.

No expense has been spared on the latest technologies.

Each of the committee meeting rooms, for instance, is equipped with infra-red broadcasting technologies that will provide everyone with wireless translation services.

The wood-panelled walls are all custom-designed for the ultimate in sound-proofing, although why that is critical for meetings mostly open to the public remains a mystery.

The building has a new cafeteria, glass-walled lunchrooms overlooking Parliament Hill, and political essentials such as a "picture framing service."

The front lobby is mainly a glassed-in security command centre with an adjacent security screening room with enough body scanners for a small airport. 

Providing MPs with so many temporary creature comforts was only part of the massive expense of the project. 

The building was previously occupied by administrative staff for the House of Commons and parliamentary library, all of whom have been relocated to temporary offices in three nearby buildings.

Public Works claims the $72 million spent so far on the temporary offices and meeting rooms in the Promenade building is under budget.

The Promenade project should not be confused with the $21 million the government spent on four other temporary meeting rooms just up the street.

Public Works claims those were under budget, too.