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More Richmond students will learn in seismically safer schools

More Richmond students will learn in seismically safer schools

January 21, 2021 at 8:21 am  BC, News, Politics

Nearly 700 more students in Richmond soon will be learning in safer schools when seismic upgrades are complete at James Whiteside and William Bridge elementary schools.

“Safe learning environments are essential to students’ well-being as they learn, grow and play in the important early years of their education,” said Jennifer Whiteside, Minister of Education. “Seismic improvements to both William Bridge Elementary and James Whiteside Elementary build on our government’s ongoing commitment to upgrade schools to provide modern and safe learning environments for current and future students throughout the province.”

The Government of B.C. is investing $31.2 million for seismic upgrades at the two schools to help ensure they can protect students and staff in the event of an earthquake. The Richmond School District is contributing $2.14 million to include further improvements to James Whiteside Elementary, including accessibility, HVAC, interior finishing and energy enhancements.

For both projects, staff and students are expected to remain on site during construction, which is scheduled to begin in early 2022 and be completed by mid-2023.

“William Bridge Elementary and James Whiteside Elementary will soon be aligned to modern seismic standards and these foundational changes will be welcomed by students, staff and parents,” said Sandra Nixon, chair, Richmond Board of Education. “The Richmond board fully supports these seismic updates as they will allow for both schools to continue to safely serve students and communities now and in the years ahead.”

These investments are part of the Province’s work to accelerate investments in seismic safety at high-risk schools throughout British Columbia. Funding now totals $129.7 million invested for seismic upgrades at 11 Richmond schools in fewer than four years.

“Between 2010 and 2017, only one school was approved for seismic upgrades in Richmond, but our government is doing things differently to ensure students are safe at school,” said Aman Singh, MLA for Richmond-Queensborough. “With 11 schools now approved for seismic upgrades, nearly 4,500 more families can send their children to school with the comfort of knowing they’ll be safe in an earthquake.”

Schools in Richmond under construction for seismic upgrades include Mitchell, Manoah Steves, F.A. Tomsett, James McKinney and Maple Lane elementary schools. Upgrades have recently been completed at Hugh Boyd Secondary, William Cook, Robert J. Tait, and W.D. Ferris elementary schools.

Since September 2017, government has announced more than $1.1 billion for seismic upgrades or replacements at 53 high-risk schools, providing a safer learning environment for nearly 30,000 students, with many more to come.

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