They apparently must be spiking the water in St. John's with an assortment of interesting chemicals since I left if these two can agree on the same thing. That being the government should renovate the Colonial Building and turn it back into the province's legislature and not a historical attraction that probably no one will visit.
The province certainly is taking its time in announcing what they're planning on doing with the three major spaces vacated by the opening of The Rooms. I (along with other reporters) have been asking for years what was going to happen to the Colonial Building, the Arts and Culture Centre, and the old Museum space on Duckworth Street.
The previous Liberal government dragged their feet on it. So did the current Tory one. It was always being "studied." There are elements of the arts community that would love to see more rehearsal space or possibly another small theatre in the vacated art gallery area. And, of course, there's a group that wants to see a library downtown and views the old museum has the perfect place for it.
They are fine ideas, including Hollett's idea for the Colonial Building if we lived in the land of infinite money. Which we do not. Well, you guys don't, anyway. I'm up north where money becomes something weird.
When I read the Colonial Building idea pitched by Hollett last night, I thought it was a great idea. Then I slept on it. And came to the conclusion that, no, not really. Fun idea, but an awfully expensive one.
I don't have dollar figures for what it would cost, but it certainly involve major renovations to the Colonial Building (Granted, ones that have to be done anyway), then moving all the MHAs to the new legislature and then major renovations to the Confederation Building to fill the void left by the departure of the HOA and all the government members. And least we forget, the government already spent a small fortune on the HOA within the past five years when they wired it for television broadcasts.
So what would be the cost for that? At least $5 million I should think. Probably closer to $10 million. I'm pulling numbers out of my ass here, so God only knows what the cost would be. Perhaps more.
But here's one number I'm not pulling out of my ass - the number of times the House of Assembly sat in 2004: 60. According to Hansard, that's how many times the government could be bothered to open the House for business. Keep in mind that's not how many times each member actually went or did some real work. That's how many times the doors were open.
It's also not a particularly low number in our province's recent history. Grimes was just as bad for it. So was Tobin. Can't recall what Wells was like, but I'm sure Ed can tell me. I recall doing a research on a story a few years ago comparing how many times our HOA sits compared to other provinces. We were among the lowest in Canada if memory serves. It's also not likely to change anytime soon since, again if I recall properly, our current premier has expressed frustration about what a waste of time the HOA is as no real work gets done and he could spend his time better, doing more important things.
So I like the idea of renovating the Colonial Building and turning it back into the legislature...if only I didn't know how little it would be used anyway, how much it was going to cost, and all the other things that money could be better spent on.
Oh, and while we're spending magic money, I love the idea of a downtown library. Granted, the province can't find the money to give enough books to the already existing libraries in the province. Also the one in the Arts and Culture Centre is in such physically bad shape that it has to close during really hot summer days because it's against the law to make employees work in such unhealthy heat.
So yeah, not seeing that downtown library happening when the rest in the province have a few issues to take care of first.
As for the new rehearsal space in the ACC...sure, why not. Shouldn't cost that much.