Province to speed up school seismic upgrades

Jeff Bell - Times Colonist

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Education Minister Rob Fleming watches Grade 5 students play a game called Gaga ball before announcing a $2.4-million seismic upgrade for Campus View Elementary School in Saanich on Friday, Oct. 27, 2017. Students will not need to be moved: Most of the inside work will be done over two summers. Photograph By ADRIAN LAM, Times Colonist

As part of a plan that Education Minister Rob Fleming said will speed up earthquake-preparedness efforts at schools around the province, a $2.4-million seismic upgrade has been announced for Campus View Elementary School.

Fleming said the NDP government inherited a backlog of 181 schools needing seismic work.

“We’re working with school boards and local municipal officials to meet an ambitious timeline so we can get schools quickly upgraded,” he said.

Fleming said seismic upgrades are vital for schools.

“It’s very important to me that we ensure that all of our schools right across B.C. are safe for students,” he said. “I’m pleased to announce that we have 50 seismic projects that will be approved by our new government in the next 18 months.”

Along with that, the government has committed $522 million over the next three years for seismic needs at schools.

Construction at Campus View will begin in June and be complete by September 2019, with no relocation of the school’s 400-plus students required. The bulk of the inside work will be done over the two summers of the construction period, said Campus View principal Doug Smith.

Fleming was at Campus View Friday afternoon to outline the project, with students from Françoise Roux’s Grade 5 French-immersion class lined up behind him. “It will allow students to remain in the school during construction, which is very important to avoid the cost and expense and inconvenience of swing space and being relocated elsewhere,” he said.

Fleming said the Campus View seismic project is being done because it was ready to proceed, and is the 16th to go ahead out of 25 identified in the Greater Victoria school district.

“We have to do better, we have to upgrade more schools more quickly here in Greater Victoria and other districts where this is an issue.”

Other improvements will be made to schools during some of the projects, he said.

Campus View has seen “unprecedented growth” and has six classes in portables, but Smith said nothing has been decided about any new space being added as part of the upcoming work.

Greater Victoria school board vice-chairman Tom Ferris said the work planned for Campus View is appreciated. “We’re very pleased to be able to make this school a safer workplace and a safer place for our students to learn.”

Smith said the work at Campus View is coming a little sooner than expected, and he is happy that the plan calls for minimal disruption for students and staff.

Earthquake preparedness is something that has led to considerable discussion within the school community, Smith said. “I’m really glad to see the government take a big interest in this.”

jwbell@timescolonist.com

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