NEWS

Reported 10-year delay on seismic upgrades 'unacceptable' says Vancouver trustee Patti Bacchus

03/06/2015 11:42 EST | Updated 05/06/2015 05:59 EDT
A Vancouver School Board trustee calls reports of new delays to the seismic upgrading of schools "unacceptable."

In 2005, the province committed to upgrades to dozens of older schools in the city, and set a deadline of 2020 to finish the work.

That deadline has now been pushed back to 2030 for schools in Vancouver, and to 2025 for schools outside Vancouver, according to an unconfirmed report.

B.C.'s Education Ministry has not yet returned a CBC request for confirmation on the report.

Trustee Patti Bacchus said she has yet to hear from the ministry, but pushing back the deadline another decade would put another generation of children at risk.

"This is gambling with the safety of kids. These are high risk buildings ... To put off another ten years — we're talking thousands of children spending their days in a high risk school. That could have been fixed by now," said Bacchus.

Despite a decade of upgrades, Bacchus said there are still more than 40 Vancouver schools that are still deemed at high risk of collapsing during a major earthquake.

"We're not talking moderate risk, these are all high risk, H1 and H2 buildings that are expected to have significant structural failure in the event of an earthquake," said Bacchus.

A rating of H1 means a school is at the highest risk of widespread damage or structural failure during a major earthquake.

A 2012 survey found that there were more than 150 schools across the province at high risk of substantial damage during an earthquake, and pegged the cost of upgrading them at $1.3 billion.

Last year the government announced that school boards would have to pay half the cost of seismic upgrades.

"They find different reasons, to say gee, here we are 10 years into the program  and now they're saying this a problem," said Bacchus.

"I don't buy that. Parents certainly shouldn't accept that. These children's lives should not be put at risk."

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