Last night’s earthquake is a reminder of the need for seismic upgrades to a number of older buildings in the region, especially when it comes to schools. Victoria is well ahead of the curve compared to the city of Vancouver, but there is still work that needs to be done before parents and students can call their schools earthquake safe.
” There’s a real risk of collapse if the magnitude is greater,” says NDP Education Critic Rob Fleming of Vic High School, which is next in line to receive seismic upgrades.
The majority of schools in the Capital Region, including George Jay Elementary, and Mount Doug Secondary in Victoria, have already had significant seismic work completed. But more than 15 schools in the area are still at risk. And the Provincial Government recently announced that the deadline to complete upgrades would be pushed back by 10 years.
“To suggest its ok to delay to 2030 to delay buildings where our students and staff work in British Columbia is unacceptable,” says Fleming.
But former Minister of Education Peter Fassbender says it’s not a matter of money. Funding is in place, but some school districts haven’t come up with a proper plan to complete the upgrades.
“It is a really up to the districts to come up with their plan. And I know the minister of education, Mike Bernier, is waiting for Vancouver to submit its plan by the end of January. Money is not a problem. The money is there,” said Fassbender.
Thankfully, the Greater Victoria School District has been working on their plan for years, and is optimistic that that upgrades at all their schools will be completed in the next five to seven years.