VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – The province has announced its next steps to seismically upgrades schools around the lower mainland.
BC’s government predicts Bayview Elementary and Sir Matthew Begbie Elementary are both at risk of collapse if an earthquake were to hit Vancouver. They’ve announced plans to build two brand new schools by 2021, worth $46.9 million.
Sir Matthew Begbie Elementary, located in East Vancouver, was built in 1922 and has been a concern since 2005. It will be worth approximately $22.4-million, and it is to be built on the same property of the current school.
Bayview Elementary is located in Kitsilano near West 6th Avenue. It was built in 1913 and it is one of the heritage buildings Vancouver City Council marked as ‘endangered.’ The province says the school will be demolished, and the students will be “moved to temporary accommodations.”
“Parents will want first-and-foremost a safe building that will survive a significant earthquake,” says Minister of Education Rob Fleming. “I know that the City of Vancouver will have a heritage process, so it’ll be up to them to navigate that issue. We’re thrilled to have a partnership with the City of Vancouver and neighborhood learning centre.”
Premier John Horgan says education in BC has suffered from under funding, and therefore, upgrades like these have been neglected.
“Previous governments have made it a priority in rhetoric but not necessarily in reality… we can work more effectively in the future and ensure that those projects that come up from the ground are utilized by a provincial government that’s committed to making sure that seismic upgrading happens in a timely matter.”
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Meanwhile, the premier says all students in Maple Ridge will be attending class in sound structures by the end of next year.
“Finishing upgrades at Fairview Elementary and Westview Secondary will mean every single child in Maple Ridge is learning in a seismically safe school,” says Horgan. “We know there is more to be done in other communities. That is why we are working to fast-track seismic upgrades and school capital projects throughout the province.”
Fairview and Westview are the last two schools deemed “high-risk” in their districts.
“This is just the beginning,” Fleming says. “We are working with school boards to accelerate seismic upgrades and other investments in education as part of our commitment to making life more affordable, delivering the services families need, and strengthening our economy.”