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No seismic fix for BC legislature

October 20, 2011, POSTED BY Rob Shaw

Politicians hid under their desks at the B.C. legislature Thursday to practice their annual earthquake drill, but the historic building will remain a seismic deathtrap in case of an actual disaster.

Speaker Bill Barisoff, the Liberal MLA who presides over the building and its staff, told reporters he has no plans to ask Premier Christy Clark for $250 million to seismically upgrade the dangerously-unstable historic capital building.

"Before I would be asking for $250 million or more to put the buildings in a seismic situation I'd be certainly looking to make  sure that we have the majority or all the schools or hospitals (seismically upgraded) on the Lower Mainland," said Barisoff.

Two engineering studies - the most recent of which was completed from 2005 - have said a moderate earthquake would cripple the 114-year-old structure, collapse much of its domes and ceilings, and lead to the death of at least some of the approximately 500 people who work there.

But Barisoff has said there's little public appetite to fix the legislature when many schools and hospitals have yet to be seismically secured.

"Certainly there are higher priorities than the building now," he said Thursday.

Sgt.-at-arms Gary Lenz said there are continuity plans to keep government running in a different location if the legislative building is compromised.

The legislature earthquake drills were part of province-wide preparations during ShakeOut B.C. day.

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