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Two seismically safer schools reopened in Vancouver

December 15, 2022 at 9:12 am  BC, News, Politics, Provincial

Approximately 800 more elementary students in Vancouver are learning in safer environments, now that one school has been seismically rebuilt and another seismically upgraded.

“I’m proud of the progress our government is making to seismically upgrade schools in Vancouver,” said Rachna Singh, Minister of Education and Child Care. “Since 2017, we have completed six seismic replacements or upgrades in the district with another six underway. We are committed to continued investments that provide students throughout B.C. with safe and modern learning environments.”

A seismic upgrade and partial replacement are complete at Dr. George M. Weir Elementary, giving more than 400 students a safer place to learn. The Province invested $16.7 million to replace the gymnasium, library and several classrooms on one side of the school. The remaining classrooms underwent a seismic upgrade.

The Vancouver School District contributed an additional $3 million to the project. During construction, students were accommodated at John Oliver Secondary and Captain James Cook Elementary schools. Now that the upgrades are complete, students have returned to their neighbourhood school.

“It’s great to see students at Dr. George M. Weir return to a seismically safer school,” said George Chow, MLA for Vancouver-Fraserview. “I know how important this school is to families in the Killarney neighbourhood, and I’m excited to see how the safer and improved school supports the inclusive and nurturing community at Weir.”

A seismic replacement was recently completed at the new wək̓ʷan̓əs tə syaqʷəm (formerly Sir Matthew Begbie Elementary). The new school is a result of a $22.4-million investment from the Province and will add 340 safer seats to the district.

To further serve families in the area, wək̓ʷan̓əs tə syaqʷəm was built with a neighbourhood learning centre, which will be used for programming, such as child care, that benefits the broader community.

The school was built with mass timber, which has lower greenhouse gas emissions compared to steel and concrete.

“The beautiful new wək̓ʷan̓əs tə syaqʷəm shows our strong commitment to invest in the future of our province and provide students with the best learning experience possible,” said Niki Sharma, MLA for Vancouver-Hasting. “Parents deserve the comfort of knowing their children are safe at school, and I’m pleased that’s now the case at wək̓ʷan̓əs tə syaqʷəm.”

Since September 2017, the Government of B.C. has invested more than $300 million to seismically upgrade or replace 12 schools in Vancouver. This includes seismic replacements at Henry Hudson Elementary, Eric Hamber Secondary, David Lloyd George Elementary and Bayview Community Elementary.

“It is a top priority of the Vancouver School District to ensure all students attend seismically safe schools as quickly as possible,” said Victoria Jung, chair, Vancouver School Board. “I want to thank the Province for investing in a total of $39.1 million to make not one, but two schools, seismically safer. With your contributions, students and staff at Weir and wək̓ʷan̓əs tə syaqʷəm elementary schools are now able to live, work and learn in a seismically safer building and be safer in the event of an earthquake.”

In five years, the Government of B.C. has announced $3 billion for new and improved schools, and land purchases for future schools, throughout the province. This includes adding approximately 20,000 new student spaces and 33,000 seismically safer seats at B.C. schools.

To support this momentum, Budget 2022 includes $3.1 billion for school capital investments that provide a better place for students to learn.

Learn More:

Vancouver School District: https://www.vsb.bc.ca/Pages/default.aspx 

The Ministry of Education and Child Care’s Seismic Mitigation Program:
https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content?id=14848EBBEF10466D8C70DAAE25B4A1D4  

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