BC’s Education Minister appears to be softening the government’s stance on declaring no seismic upgrades for districts and schools without a plan for 95% enrollment.
Speaking on the target to reporters today, Education Minister Mike Bernier said “I’ve always said that’s a flexible target, it’s a goal to work towards.”
READ MORE: VSB signs onto seismic office
But former VSB chair Patti Bacchus took to social media to say Bernier is wrong.
She says Bernier’s predecessor Peter Fassbender made it clear in a 2014 memorandum of understanding that the capacity target was an ultimatum in order to obtain seismic upgrade cash.
To that, Bernier say Bacchus is “100% inaccurate.”
“All of the investments we’ve made have proceeded despite the fact that Vancouver is well below the 95% goal. We have never said that we will not do a seismic upgrade until the district or a school is at 95%.”
While that may be true, the actual text of the memorandum didn’t require the VSB to be at 95% in order for cash to start flowing.
Instead, it requires the district to have a Long Range Facilities Plan in place by June 30th of this year, sketching out a pathway to 95%.
That plan, ratified in January, is what led the board to today’s closure announcement.
And Bacchus says Fassbender made it clear at the time it was non-negotiable.
“He said if the school board did not sign it within a very short time period, he would have to consider where that seismic money should go.”
Vancouver Hastings NDP MLA Shane Simpson has also waded into the fray, saying the 95% figure has been “very real” to Vancouver parents.
“I don’t think that Mr. Bernier is believable, he changes his story, the Premier changes her story; frankly they have mislead the people of Vancouver, they’ve mislead parents across this province. They are closing schools, and that number is very real for this Board and what they have to do.”
Bacchus say she is giving the Education Minister a break because he’s new to the portfolio.