© Photo special to The Guardian by Brian Simpson
Province House in the snow photographed by provincial photographer Brian Simpson.
After a temporary closure and concerns raised about the state of Province House, the legislative assembly will be back in the building in April for the spring sitting.
In an interview with The Guardian, legislative assembly clerk Charles MacKay said the building will be ready when the house re-opens on April 2.
“It’s been cleared for that,” he said.
The building has been closed for several weeks after a chunk of plaster about the size of a pool table fell from the ceiling near one of the entrances. It was the latest in a string of problems at the historic building where emergency repairs were required on one of the exterior walls.
An engineering report Parks Canada commissioned determined extensive repairs and restoration work is needed to protect the building and address numerous issues, including a leaking roof and structural problems.
Those repairs could take more than three years to finish and might require the building to stay closed for an extended period of time.
That led to questions about whether the building would be able to open for the legislative assembly this spring.
A contingency plan is in place that would move the proceedings to the neighbouring Coles Building if ever Province House is unusable for the legislative assembly, although a new plan would be needed for a lengthy closure.
That’s not going to be an issue this spring, with MacKay saying an engineer’s assessment has shown the building is safe for public use and occupancy.
“That’s exactly what we’re going to do,” he said.
Parks Canada also announced last week it was re-opening Province House on March 24 after the contractor was able to finish the necessary repairs to the ceiling ahead of schedule.
While the building was shut down legislative assembly staff were housed in the nearby Atlantic Technology Centre and MacKay said they were moving back to Province House this week.
MacKay said he was glad the necessary work on Province House was done in time for the spring sitting.
Although he thought moving out of the building had some impact on the work legislative assembly staff could do, MacKay said he though they adjusted well and were able to perform all of their responsibilities.
“It’s going to be very nice to be back in Province House and be able then to focus on the session and getting our business done here.”