Security costs justified: Reid

In the same week she was repaying the provincial coffers for a plane ticket covering a working trip to South Africa that her husband accompanied her on, Richmond East MLA and Speaker Linda Reid said pricey security upgrades to her constituency office were necessary and value for money.

A total of $79,000 was spent on her office at the Garden City mall — a space she has occupied since first being elected in 1991.

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Reid said the upgrades, the first ever made on the office, were deemed necessary following an attempted bombing of the Legislature last July 1. And in her role as Speaker, Reid said she was considered a high profile target.

Following the attempted bombing in Victoria, Reid said the RCMP and the legislature’s Sergeant at Arms met in her office to assess what needed to be upgraded.

She was reluctant to say exactly what security measures were upgraded, but confirmed security alarms and video surveillance were part of the improvements.

What she did reveal is the previous open plan of the office has been significantly altered to provide “segmented” access.

Part of the changes included placing a large bench bolted to the concrete sidewalk outside the entrance to the office door and windows to provide a barrier from the parking lot.

Of the $79,000 spent, a total of $45,000 was on security upgrades. Another $26,000 was spent on bringing the office up to the current building code — a mandatory requirement when renovations are undertaken. And while the work was being done, another $6,000 was spent on a temporary office space.

“It’s an older building, so they had to take lots of time to get it done,” Reid said. “I liked it as it was. I wasn’t all that interested in making a change.”

Reid said the renovations will be paid from the funds provided to her constituency office and assured that even in light of the expenditures, the Speaker’s office will be under budget at fiscal year-end.

On Tuesday, Reid repaid $5,500 for the cost of a business class air ticket for her husband during a trip to last August to South Africa for a Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference.

Reid said spousal travel has been a common practice for the past two decades or more, but is something that will now be reviewed.

Earlier in the March, Reid was questioned about  another list of costs that included $48,412 for a custom, touch-screen computer terminal that sits in front of her in the chamber.

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