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Eastern Provinces Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland



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Old May 13th, 2006, 11:39 PM   #1
bluenoser
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New Province House??

MLAs may move House

Plans suggested include 'annex,' with legislature kept for formal occasions

By Brian Flinn
The Daily News

PROVINCE HOUSE - Nova Scotia's MLAs are discussing plans to move out of the oldest legislature in Canada.

Speaker Cecil Clarke is floating a plan to build a new "legislative annex" across Granville Street from Province House.

Sources say it could include a new chamber.

The old House would be reserved for special occasions, said one MLA who supports the plan. Members would assemble there for ceremonies, such as the opening and closing of House sessions.

Clarke denied he wants to move debate out of the old building, which opened in 1819. But he said he's interested in developing a new building to complement the old one.

"I want to make sure the use of this House is the most appropriate use it could be," Clarke said yesterday.

The Speaker, who is the Progressive Conservative MLA for Cape Breton North, said he would like to create new space for committee meetings and public functions.

Support staff

The new legislative block would also house MLAs' officees and support staff.

Clarke wrote a letter to MLAs last week saying a CBCL Ltd. consultant has been appointed project head. He is ready to begin briefing the three party caucuses.

A second MLA, who did not want to be identified, said no plans are expected to become public until after the coming election.

The cost of a new building is unknown. Province House got a facelift this year. A new fence, retaining wall, front steps and stone work cost $1.5 million.

The Tory government has done a lot to improve the old building. It also built modern washrooms, and remodelled offices and common areas.

The legislative annex project could lead to more public and pedestrian space downtown. Parking for MLAs might be moved to the new building.

"There's lots of discussions about taking parking out and turning the grounds into park land," Clarke said.

"There's discussions about whether Granville Street becomes a promenade, an access point so the legislative lot is more usable."

The move away from Province House started in the 1990s, when the premier's office moved across Granville Street to a new office building, One Government Place.

Air quality complaints

The Tories built a new cabinet meeting room in the same building in 2001, after ministers complained about air quality.

Another MLA said he would welcome a move to a new chamber, because the air in the existing House makes him sick.

The new building would occupy the site of the existing Dennis Building and an adjoining parking lot.

Clarke said that government office building has problems with access and occupational health and safety.

Written notices beside bathroom taps warn against drinking the water.



What do they mean by "the site of the existing Dennis Building"? Where's the Heritage Trust on this one?
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Old May 15th, 2006, 07:57 AM   #2
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Wow I think I really like this idea. A combination new building/parkland surrounding the old building would be amazing. It seems like all the other legislatures in Canada (esp. western Canada) are big deals - huge, nice buildings with lots of greenspace around them.

Our legislature, being the oldest in Canada and a beautiful building, could be way more of an attraction. I've been inside several others in Canada but not Nova Scotia's, for some reason.

I think there's always room for more greenspace in the downtown, especially if it replaces surface-level parking.
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Old May 15th, 2006, 09:52 PM   #3
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In spite of the morons who opposed it on "Citizen Q' Friday (87% against) -- which makes me wonder where the heck they get these people anyway, they all sound like unemployed ne'er do wells who sit around all day and grouse about the state of the world -- anyone who has spent any time at Province House will understand how good an idea this is. The building is in awful shape, cramped, moldy, close to falling down. Combining a restoration with a new facility is a winner in my books.
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Old May 15th, 2006, 11:10 PM   #4
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Sounds like a good idea to me, I just hope to god they don't try to make it "in keeping with the surrounding buildings". That = ugly brick box with "decorative" squares. It'd be awesome if they had some sort of international design competition for a modern building.
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Old May 16th, 2006, 01:40 AM   #5
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I hope this annex is not some ugly industral building.

Quote:
international design competition
Its unlikely any submission designed outside of Nova Scotia would be accepted by the backward people of our province, no matter how good it looks.
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Old May 16th, 2006, 02:46 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Keith P.
In spite of the morons who opposed it on "Citizen Q' Friday (87% against) -- which makes me wonder where the heck they get these people anyway, they all sound like unemployed ne'er do wells who sit around all day and grouse about the state of the world -- anyone who has spent any time at Province House will understand how good an idea this is. The building is in awful shape, cramped, moldy, close to falling down. Combining a restoration with a new facility is a winner in my books.

I agree with you mostly. However, I don't think it is in horrible shape. It has just got a major facelift and is a jewell to hold onto. It is the oldest legislator in Canada and should be held onto. Look at the British Parliament is incredibily cramped, but they still choose to use because it is tradition.
I do support buliding a new building for offices and functions related to the legislator.
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Old May 16th, 2006, 03:01 AM   #7
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The current building is beautiful and is the best structure from that period in the entire country. Most other Canadian cities have nothing of that quality dating from 1860, let alone 1811.

Anyway, I think that the proposed site is kind of inappropriate. It is too small and not suited to a monumental institutional structure. If they do build a new legislature they should put it on the waterfront and design something modern and attractive. The existing Province House could simply be restored as a heritage property and the lot across the street could be filled in with an appropriate office building with storefronts to continue the regular block structure in that part of the downtown and enclose both the Grand Parkade and the Province House grounds.
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Old May 16th, 2006, 06:14 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Haligonian
Anyway, I think that the proposed site is kind of inappropriate. It is too small and not suited to a monumental institutional structure. If they do build a new legislature they should put it on the waterfront and design something modern and attractive. The existing Province House could simply be restored as a heritage property and the lot across the street could be filled in with an appropriate office building with storefronts to continue the regular block structure in that part of the downtown and enclose both the Grand Parkade and the Province House grounds.
As usual, you make a good point. It occurs to me that the existing law courts on the waterfront are supposed to go away once the new courthouse gets built. That could be a possibility. My preferred spot would be further south, where the existing ocean research building and parking lots are. I wouldn't mind seeing that go away and it and the lots used for a new legislature complex.
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Old May 17th, 2006, 01:29 AM   #9
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I don't want to sound like one of those anti-gulf towers types, but although we do need a new legislative building, it needs to be "anywhere but there". The heritage trust should really be protecting buildings like the Dennis Building instead of arguing over empty lots.
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Old May 17th, 2006, 03:21 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bluenoser
I don't want to sound like one of those anti-gulf towers types, but although we do need a new legislative building, it needs to be "anywhere but there". The heritage trust should really be protecting buildings like the Dennis Building instead of arguing over empty lots.
Well for once I agree with you bluenoser . with gulf towers I cannot really see that a multi sotry 1950s parking garage is historial but Province House is totally a different matter. Green Space might be nice and in keeping with what many capitals have around the house of assembly but in this case the way it is suits the purpose. Now if space is a problem then do some tunnelling for a underground passage to addition office space that suits the desired need.

The plans really have to be seen to really make an judgement on the project but I would never want to see the character of the house and the area around it changed. The Houses of Government in Western Canada seem to all fit the same pattern. very nice but let keep our own indentity in this matter.

jim jones
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Old May 17th, 2006, 11:19 PM   #11
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I wonder if it would be possible to build on top of the dennis building?
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Old May 18th, 2006, 05:00 AM   #12
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I have a feeling if they keep the Dennis building, they'll only keep the facade, like the did on founders sqaure. The floor to ceiling heights are very unrealistic for a modern building of any type.
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Old May 19th, 2006, 12:18 AM   #13
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All of the musings I've heard about the site involved the Dennis Building being basically gutted and the facade being preserved.

It is an interesting dilemma because, while I think that it's very important as a part of the streetscape in that area, I wouldn't really want to work in that building. Maintaining the facade (in a tasteful way) and filling in the rest of the lot is probably the best compromise.

I do hope that any building on that site would only be partly government though. Granville Street has offices but Barrington has storefronts. They wouldn't need to build provincial office space if they built a decent building on another site, such as that Bioscience one that was mentioned above.

Greenspace is always mentioned but the fact is that there is already greenspace downtown that is not being used properly. The Grand Parade is partly being used for councillors' cars and the Northern part of the Province House grounds are being used by MLAs. Both of these should be redone. Aside from these pieces of greenspace, nothing else needs to be added. In fact, those sites need to be surrounded by buildings to be properly enclosed. Right now the Grand Parade is not properly enclosed and looks strange because it is a part of an unstructured open space that includes a parking lot rather than the well-defined square it was meant to be. If you look at the great public squares of the world you will find that the buildings and spaces that surround them are just as important as the actual squares themselves.
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Last edited by Haligonian; May 19th, 2006 at 12:26 AM.
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Old May 19th, 2006, 03:41 AM   #14
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Having spent some time in the Dennis Bldg i can tell you that it is an awful place to work. It has no lobby to speak of to start with. The floor decks are fairly small already, and it has only a single, small elevator shaft that would need to be greatly expanded to at least 2 cars of larger size, so you lose even more floor space. It has no central air handling and is, I'm sure, hugely inefficient from an energy standpoint. It would have to be a complete gut job and then you'd end up with some very small spaces that would be of marginal use. At best you could save the facade I think, but that's all.
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