Top officials at the B.C. legislature are crafting a plan to relocate politicians and restart the government in another part of the province, should the historic capital building be destroyed or damaged in a disaster.
The Legislative Assembly is seeking a consultant to help it prepare an emergency plan, which would formalize how B.C.'s 85 politicians and top staff could reconvene parliament in the wake of a catastrophe.
The plan will include alternate locations for a makeshift Legislative Assembly, which could be held anywhere in B.C. - Government House in Victoria, Vancouver, Kelowna, Kamloops or Prince George - as long as there are MLAs, a Speaker, a clerk, a sergeant at arms, a Hansard record and the lieutenant governor or Queen's representative.
"The legislature is not just a building," said Gary Lenz, the sergeant at arms in charge of security and emergency planning. The request for proposals for a consultant closed Friday.
The goal is to craft a formal business continuity plan that would link with the government's emergency preparedness system and outline how to keep the legislature operational in the case of a fire, power outage, flood, earthquake, attack, building collapse or other disruption. It would also outline what B.C.'s 85 MLAs and their support staff should do in case of an emergency. "There needs to be a plan that's formally documented," Lenz said.
The project has a $50,000 budget, and it is hoped the final plan could be mirrored by other legislative assemblies in Canada, said Craig James, clerk of the house. "By and large, most legislative assemblies don't have these type of plans," James said.
The legislature's obligation to Victoria residents disrupted by a disaster must also form part of the plan, James said. Hundreds of people may congregate on the grounds of the legislative precinct looking for help, and it's unclear what supplies or assistance could be available, he said. The legislature wants to consult with neighbouring residents and businesses in order to establish its role among emergency providers, James said. Planning is further complicated by the fact the 113-year-old historic building is rated a high risk to collapse during even a moderate earthquake. The legislative building needs more than $250 million in seismic repairs, but successive premiers have said they won't spend the money until all of the province's schools are seismically upgraded.
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