The chair of the Vancouver School Board says Tuesday night’s earthquake should be a wake-up call to the province.
Newly elected chair Mike Lombardi is once again accusing the B.C. government of standing still when it comes to seismic upgrades.
“The government keeps changing the rules and the timelines. At one time, we were going to get it all done by 2020, that was announced by (former) premier Campbell and Premier Clark, and of course they’ve now said 2030.”
20 Vancouver schools have received seismic upgrades, but there are still plenty left to go. Lombardi says the province should expedite the process.
“We’re very concerned about a number of our buildings, which is why we’re working hard, pressing the government to fund the program, because we do have a lot of schools that engineers tell us they would crumble.”
Lombardi says 29 schools are in the planning or construction phase of upgrades, and 39 more haven’t even got to that stage.
He says the school superintendent has been advised that the VSB will be co-ordinating inspections of school’s from last night’s tremor as soon as possible.
Province fires back
But B.C.’s Education Minister says the government is committed to getting the seismic upgrades done.
“We’re in a place where we want to seismically upgrade every school that needs to be seismically upgraded, working with the school districts.”
Instead, Mike Bernier says it’s the Vancouver School Board who’s being slow to act.
“We’re continually waiting though for the Vancouver School Board, who asked for a one-year extension on their plan, which of course I denied. I thought that after last night’s earthquake it’s a perfect example of why we want to have that plan in place as soon as possible from them… I’m looking for something by the end of January.”
Bernier says the province recognizes there’s a potential for earthquakes, and says the government has spent $500-million dollars in upgrades over the last four years alone.