Media tours the premier's penthouse apartment that Alison Redford had ordered be built near the legislature for her and her daughter

Documents show Redford planned swank penthouse

EDMONTON — Documents released Friday show former Alberta premier Alison Redford had been planning a swank taxpayer-funded penthouse retreat on top of a government building.

EDMONTON — Documents released Friday show former Alberta premier Alison Redford had been planning a swank taxpayer-funded penthouse retreat on top of a government building.

The “premier’s suite” was to have bedrooms for Redford and her pre-teen daughter, Sarah, a shared bathroom, a powder room, a walk-in closet, a butler’s pantry and dining, study and lounge areas.

Information on the suite — including memos, emails and reports — was released by the province.

Infrastructure Minister Ric McIver said he personally stopped construction on the suite in mid-January soon after he took over the portfolio from Wayne Drysdale, who is now transportation minister.

McIver said he received word from his department about the 11th- floor suite in the Federal Building near the legislature grounds. He said he walked over and saw the early stages of construction, with some wood-framing complete.

He instructed his staff to meld the suite into meeting rooms that were also to be constructed on that floor, he said.

“I made it clear there wouldn’t be a residential component,” said McIver in an interview.

He said he didn’t consult with Redford’s office before killing the penthouse plan and did not get any pushback after the fact.

It was obvious to him that taxpayers should not be paying for such an extravagance, McIver said.

“I didn’t think that was in the interest of Albertans and I didn’t think Albertans would support that. And those are my ultimate bosses.”

Redford, who still represents the constituency of Calgary-Elbow, could not be reached for comment.

The Federal Building is a historic structure under renovation. It will eventually house offices for all members of the legislature along with other government officials.

Email correspondence from 2012 and 2013 shows that at some point Redford’s office became involved and ordered changes to the 10th and 11th floors.

The changes called for a “premier’s den” built to the style of the ultra-posh Hay Adams Hotel in Boston.

The emails also spoke of a fireplace and temperature control settings in each area.

There were to be separate “grooming” and “changing” areas.

No detail was too small. There were multiple emails on the composition of room-divider panels. One memo urgently demanded “colour boards.” Another spoke about 3D floor plans.

McIver said he didn’t have an estimate on the cost of the suite or on the changes.

There was discussion about turning the 10th floor into a meeting room exclusively for members of Redford’s Progressive Conservative caucus.

To that end, her office urged that separate elevators be configured to bypass opposition legislature members on the 8th floor.

City planners balked at Redford’s apartment. They said if she planned to stay overnight, the development permit had to be changed and made public.

Redford’s office replied that nothing would be made public for security reasons.

Drysdale, in an email statement Friday, said he was aware of the apartment, but said it was one of many options being considered.

He said the apartment idea was killed on his watch 14 months before McIver said he pulled the plug on the penthouse.

“As of November 15, 2012, my understanding was that these plans were abandoned in favour of two boardrooms and additional hosting space,” wrote Drysdale.

An email from Redford’s former communications director, Stefan Baranski, meshes with Drysdale’s version of events.

“From my perspective, the Fed (building) apartment was never a serious consideration,” wrote Baranski.

“The entire 1 1/2 years I’ve been here, I always was told it was simply an option considered, but our office killed the notion long ago.”

NDP critic Deron Bilous said the issue goes beyond Redford to those in cabinet who didn’t stop the apartment when it was first proposed.

Bilous said it’s alarming that the Conservatives were proceeding with such a lavish perk during the years Redford was cutting budgets and salaries.

“It’s absurd,” said Bilous. “Albertans are shaking their heads, saying, ’Just when we thought they (the PCs) couldn’t possibly outdo themselves, they do.”’

Redford resigned last week amid escalating revelations that she had used government aircraft for personal and party events and to fly her daughter’s friends around.

Her inner circle left, too, including Baranski and chief of staff Farouk Adatia.

Premier Dave Hancock’s office reported Friday that severance for nine of Redford’s staff was a total of $1.3 million.

Just Posted

Man badly injured in off-road vehicle collision on Saturday

Incident happened in Mountain View County about 10:50 p.m.

Heat warning in effect for Central Alberta

Environment Canada has issued a heat warning for Central Alberta. Residents in… Continue reading

Alberta’s debt clock on the road to drive home fiscal message

Canadian Taxpayers Federation raising concerns about Alberta’s $45 billion debt

Red Deer’s Ryan Vandervlis out of intensive care, able to communicate

An Alberta player with the Western Hockey League who was seriously burned… Continue reading

Trump-Putin summit opens without talk of election meddling

HELSINKI — With a wink and a slouch, respectively, President Donald Trump… Continue reading

CFIA inspects after video shows pigs crammed into B.C. transport truck

The video shows pigs piled on top of one another in a transport truck on a “sweltering” hot day last week

Croatia gears up to give heroes’ welcome to World Cup team

ZAGREB, Croatia — Fans are pouring in from throughout the country as… Continue reading

Statelessness a hurdle for some rescued Thai boy

MAE SAI, Thailand — The 12 boys and coach of the Wild… Continue reading

Lobbying commissioner rejects complaints against firearms panel member

OTTAWA — A federal watchdog has dismissed complaints that a mass-shooting survivor… Continue reading

CREA reports June home sales down 10.7% from year ago, but up from May

OTTAWA — The Canadian Real Estate Association says the number of homes… Continue reading

Red Deer Royals place second at Calgary Stampede parade

Royals depicted life in forest and portrayed destruction by human beings

Muslim candidates running in record numbers face backlash

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — A liberal woman of colour with zero name recognition… Continue reading

Former UK Cabinet secretary seeks new Brexit referendum

LONDON — A former U.K. Cabinet minister from the ruling Conservative Party… Continue reading

Man killed by Chicago police ran away, reached for waist

CHICAGO — A man killed by Chicago police had a gun in… Continue reading

Most Read

Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month