Westview secondary and Fairview elementary will receive funding for seismic upgrades, Premier John Horgan announced in Maple Ridge on Wednesday.
Government is investing $2 million to upgrade Fairview and $1 million to upgrade Westview.
“Finishing upgrades at Fairview elementary and Westview secondary will mean every single child in Maple Ridge is learning in a seismically safe school,” said 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 high-risk schools in the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows school district.
Horgan made the announcement at Fairview alongside Minister of Education Rob Fleming.
“Parents have been patient for a very, very long time,” Fleming said, “and as Minister of Education, I just want to say I appreciate that voice, I have heard it, and we are doing everyting we can, as a government, to accelerate the pace of investment and the scale of investment in making our schools seismically safe.”
Fairview parent advisory council chair Miranda Carpenter wondered if some students at her school might be displaced during the upgrades.
“We are hopeful that this project can be done in a manner that is fiscally responsibleand in a timely fashion. However, we have concerns that our children will be displaced our disrupted for significant periods of time, and are looking to our government to ensure that an open line of communication is present through the planning and implementation process.”
The premier said plan is to work around the school schedule.
“We don’t want to disrupt the school year, we’re hoping to start in the spring with preliminary work and be completed by next September,” said Horgan.
“We live in a seismically active zone. It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. We need to be prepared for that,” he added. “And as a parent I know that other parents take great comfort in knowing that their kids are going to be safe in the schools they spent most of their time in.”
Fleming said the province is working with school boards to accelerate seismic upgrades.
Those at Fairview will include seismically strengthening the classroom wing, gym, multi-purpose space and change rooms. Construction is expected to start in the spring of 2018. The school will reopen for the start of school in September 2018.
At Westview, the classroom wing and gym will be seismically upgraded. Work is expected to begin in the summer of 2018.
Government is creating a plan to address the backlog of seismic projects in the province. This includes encouraging collaboration between the Ministry of Education, school districts and local governments to meet ambitious timelines and reduce the time it takes to plan and upgrade a school.
The province will also work to cut wait times for school construction by speeding up funding approvals.
The province will work with Seismic Mitigation Program experts, including Engineers and Geoscientists British Columbia, to look for ways to more efficiently and cost-effectively meet and exceed the building code for seismic safety.
Earlier that morning, the provincial government announced two new schools in Vancouver, replacing Sir Matthew Begbie and Bayview elementary school, because they are at high risk of collapsing in an earthquake.
The government has committed $522 million over three years for seismic upgrades across B.C. Victoria will work with seismic mitigation experts, including Engineers and Geoscientists British Columbia, to look for ways to more efficiently and cost-effectively meet and exceed the building code for seismic safety.