The federal government has approved plans to build a magnificent $42-million glass dome on Parliament Hill as a new home for the House of Commons — a temporary one.
The Commons will be moved to the fancy new digs while the existing chamber on Parliament Hill is being renovated, a process expected to take about seven years.
MPs and their parliamentary seats will then be moved back to the current chamber, and the soaring glass dome renovated at further expense to house three parliamentary committee rooms. The federal Public Works Department claims the project will cost $42 million, but won't say what is included in that amount.
A number of experts familiar with the project have told CBC News that the temporary glass-domed Commons will almost certainly end up costing Canadian taxpayers well over $100 million. And the Senate wants its own glass dome during renovations to the upper chamber. Officials say that project would likely cost taxpayers as much as the temporary quarters for the Commons.
Now, having thought about it, the idea of a sunlit Lower House is a little appealling. Exposing the mushroom farm on the ground floor of the Commons to sunlight mightn't be such a bad idea if it were permanent. Exposure to direct solar energy, as we know, is essential to various biogeochemical cycles, and consequently the maintenance of healthy and diverse ecosystems. Perhaps exposing our 308 undernourished plants to sun might fertilise and diversify our political ecosystem and cause them to bear fruit.
Put the glass roof on the Centre Block and make it permanent and I might support the idea of building a temporary palace.