Kathleen Casey, MLA for Charlottetown-Lewis Point, wants to know if Province House will be the future home of the legislative assembly.
The legislative assembly vacated Province House in January 2015 to allow for extensive conservation work, which is expected to continue until 2022.
Casey said Province House presented challenges as the home for a modern legislature before MLAs and staff vacated the building. During a recent question period, she asked the minister of infrastructure renewal whether her department has assessed the “suitability” of Province House as the future home for the provincial legislature.
Paula Biggar says that’s the plan.
“The intent on all sides, to be clear, is to have Province House meet the requirements of the legislative assembly,” she said, noting her department is working closely with legislative assembly staff as well as staff through the clerk’s office to catalogue the current and future requirements of the legislature.
“Legislative staff has provided a significant amount of information, which does identify what those operational needs are going to be,” said Biggar.
She said her department is also working with Parks Canada and its design team on a functional review process.
The federal government, through Parks Canada, is covering the costs associated with the conservation of Province House. However, re-establishing the legislative assembly must be paid for by the province.
Casey asked Biggar whether design plans have been finalized for Province House as well as costs to re-establish the legislative assembly in the building.
Biggar said those plans are not finalized and that it is too early to say what the exact estimates of what those costs will be.
“We are working with Parks Canada consultants to discuss those requirements,” said Biggar. “The consultant will develop the options to meet the needs of the assembly’s operations.”
Casey also wanted to know if the final design plans and resulting costs do not represent a sound provincial investment, if infrastructure renewal plans to work with the legislative assembly on other possible options.
Biggar said her staff will continue to work closely with the clerk’s office to ensure that the functional needs of the assembly will be met.
“Province House has been a historic location of our legislative assembly,” said Biggar.
“We have no reason to believe that we’ll not be able to function in the future as a legislative assembly, and we’re working towards that goal.”