Burst pipe in Parliament’s West Block floods Trudeau out of meeting

OTTAWA -- Members of Parliament are used to raising a political stink as part of their job.

But there was an odour of a different kind Tuesday coming out of the newly renovated West Block building that is now the temporary home of the House of Commons -- the kind of smell that comes from water soaking freshly installed carpet.

A burst sprinkler pipe flooded several levels of the building, a day after members of Parliament started working there, including a section where the federal cabinet had met just hours before.

"I haven't seen it, but I can smell it," Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said as he left his office, near where water was pouring out of the broken pipe.

Rob Wright, the bureaucrat in charge of the recent West Block renovations, which took seven years at a cost nearing $1 billion, said the flooding appeared to be isolated to a single sprinkler pipe adjacent to a washroom.

But enough water poured out to cause the evacuation of a cafeteria two floors below.

Maintenance crews scrambled to mop up the mess, moving large barrels of brownish water out of the third floor meeting space, and bringing in industrial-style fans to try to dry the place out.

"It's, I think, growing pains in a new building," Trudeau said as he left the building to meet the premier of Prince Edward Island -- in a different place, having been flooded out of the intended one.

"We're all going to adapt and adjust to the challenges of moving into new digs," he said, adding that his office wasn't directly affected.

On their first sitting day in West Block on Monday, plenty of members of Parliament took wrong turns and had to be directed to the House of Commons they're to use while Centre Block undergoes at least a decade of renovations.

Several people visiting the renovated building for the first time also noticed a display panel for one of West Block's elevators was installed upside-down. Some doorways that were in full use for getting around the corridors were also marked with "Emergency Exit" signs left over from the renovations.