WATCH: One of the oldest schools in Western Canada was supposed to be getting some earthquake upgrades this year, but PLANS have been pushed back. Vic High is the next on the list of schools in the Capital Region that will get a seismic facelift, but as Kori Sidaway tells us, the district is waiting for the province to approve their plan, and things likely won’t get moving until 2020.
On Vancouver Island, residents hear a lot about the “big one:” a long overdue appointment with Mother Nature.
The November 2018 earthquake in Anchorage, Alaska stands for many as a reminder to many of the structural upgrades our coast needs, especially in our schools.
“Upgrades are just needed for our kid’s safety,” said Education Minister Rob Fleming.
“These are buildings that in a significant seismic event would cause significant damage.”
The provincial government has already spent $1.6 billion on seismic upgrades in schools across B.C. But in the Greater Victoria School District (SD61), one is being delayed.
“It’s not about funding, it’s about the additional time the school district wanted for community consultation,” said Fleming.
“The heritage values on this building are unique. There is no other building like this on Vancouver Island or indeed the province.”
The education minister is talking about Vic High. The heritage building was built in 1914 and is known as the oldest public high school in Western Canada.
Because of its age, the province says it needed to compile extra engineering reports and more time to consult with the community.
“We’re not interested in tearing down Vic High and building a new school, we’re interested in preserving Vic High,” said SD61 Trustee Jordan Watters in May of 2018 to CHEK News.
The community agreed, and the school district took the calls to heart.
In November, they submitted a plan to the Ministry of Education to keep the older building and conduct seismic upgrades. But at the end of January, the district is still waiting for the province’s response.
“This is one of the most complex seismic in probably this province’s history,” said Mark Walsh, SD61’s Secretary-Treasurer.
“Not only have we had to update Burnside, but we also have to get SJ Willis ready in order to move the kids from Vic High to SJ Willis.”
And all this shuffling around would mean Vic High wouldn’t likely be updated until the fall of 2020.
“Vic High was a project that was ignored for 10 years, and it’s important we get on it, and we get it done right,” explained Fleming.
If approved, the $50-60 million plan would see the school turn more into a community hub: seismically safe, with increased capacity, athletic amenities and possibly a theatre.