City councillor frustrated by Senate's VIP entranceway


City Coun. Mathieu Fluery says he’s frustrated by the federal government’s decision to build a VIP entranceway on Rideau Street in front of the new Senate of Canada Building.

The city, he said, has received notice from Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) that the entrance will be in place by Nov. 18. Construction has already started.

Fleury, councillor for Rideau-Vanier, contends the second entranceway is unnecessary because senators already have ready access to their temporary home off Colonel By Drive.

“If it was a property that had limited access, you’d say, ‘OK, let’s make it work.’ But they have full access on Colonel By: There’s dignitary loading there,” he said. “It’s frustrating that the federal government can just do things.”

The Senate’s permanent home in Centre Block is now undergoing its first major rehabilitation since it opened in 1920.

Its new home at 2 Rideau St., the former Government Conference Centre, is located within the Parliamentary Precinct, an area administered by PSPC.

Fleury said the unilateral action of the federal government makes it difficult to plan: “Having this loading bay only creates a more challenging environment. I’m worried about what that will mean to the pedestrian experience and the cycling experience.”

The city wants to improve the cycling infrastructure on Rideau Street, he said. It’s also engaged in development of the ByWard Market Public Realm Plan — a plan to improve public spaces in the area, including streets, sidewalks, parks, squares and plazas.

Fleury said he only came to understand the VIP entranceway was moving forward on Friday when he received an email from one of the city’s traffic management inspectors, Stephane Fortin.

“It just once again demonstrates that the car is king in the federal government,” he said. “They love their parking lots and their curb cuts.

A spokesman for the National Capital Commission said he could not comment on the issue Sunday.