Province House windows being reinforced but cost kept secret

Nova Scotian taxpayers will be footing the bill to make the windows at Province House resistant to projectiles — but Speaker Kevin Murphy wouldn't divulge the cost of this latest security measure.

Speaker keeping latest security costs secret

An installer from Llumar works on applying the protective covering to Province House windows. (Jean Laroche/CBC)

The windows at Province House are being fitted with protective plastic sheets this week to make them resistant to anyone wanting to get the government's attention by way of brick or rock. This is just the latest security measure to try to secure the legislature from attack.

Reinforcing the windows was one of the recommendations of a security audit ordered by the Speaker after a gunman stormed the House of Commons in Ottawa on Oct. 22, 2014.

Since then, Kevin Murphy has beefed up the police presence at the Nova Scotia Legislature and ordered the installation of a network of cameras. He has taken other surveillance measures that he will not discuss. The bill for the extra security totalled more than $300,000, as of last fall.

Murphy wouldn't say how much reinforcing the windows would cost, but he did confirm it would be less than $100,000. He called it a reasonable expense given "the new reality."

Province House in Halifax. (Jean Laroche/CBC)

"The more we say, the more people who may be interested in that information can use it to their advantage," said Murphy.

"It's our obligation to look after the health and safety of our members, our staff, (reporters), that work in the building on a daily basis."

The secrecy is a concern to NDP Leader Gary Burrill. 

"Province House is 'the people's house' and Nova Scotians deserve to know how much taxpayer money is being spent on repairs, renovations or any activities that take place there," said Burrill.

Each window pane must be individually fitted with a made-to-measure piece of resistant plastic. The company hired for the job, Maritime Window Film Specialists is using a security film called Llumar.

The Eastman Chemical Company, advertises the material on its website as a protection against all types of dangers.

"Whether breakage occurs as a result of a storm, vandalism, an active-shooter situation, or even just an accident, it can cause major damage to the people and assets inside the building."

In recent memory, windows have only been broken twice as a result of something being thrown at the building.

In April 2000, a young man threw an orange at the building and broke a window during a protest by students and their parents outside the legislature. He later apologized and a collection to pay for the damage was presented to the House.

In November 1998 a homeless man was arrested after he threw broken bricks at the building. A judge later convicted him and ordered to pay $350 dollars to fix two broken window panes.

Five years ago, the province issued a tender to repair and restore all the windows at Province House. Eastern Infrastructure Inc won the $605,760 contract and completed the work. At the time, the concern was the state of the building's storm windows, not security.

Clarifications

  • An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified Llumar as the company hired to install the protective film on the windows. Llumar is the product name of the film, which is manufactured by Eastman Chemical Company.
    Apr 06, 2016 9:01 AM AT

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