In November 2004, British Columbia’s Premier Gordon Campbell made a US$1.3 billion commitment to seeing all schools brought up to acceptable seismic life safety standards by 2020. It continues to require public vigilance and pressure to ensure that this commitment is met. The facts around this issue are cause for alarm:
Since 2001, the Government of BC and local school boards have only managed to complete 40 projects. Over the next 5 years, they have earmarked $30M for 30 schools to be seismically upgraded. This means that by 2018 there still will be 122 schools that are at high risk of structurally failing during an earthquake.
As work slowly proceeds behind plan on our children’s schools, other city and provincial seismic mitigation efforts have been completed. The City of Vancouver has seismically upgraded water supply systems and bridges while the provincial electric utility, B.C. Hydro, is systematically upgrading its buildings and infrastructure. The provincial prisons were seismically upgraded and even provincially run liquor stores have been upgraded. Shamefully, schools have not been seen as a high priority.
BC’s children can no longer be our last priority. It is time that we put pressure on the provincial government and local school boards to ensure they honour their commitments and put forward a plan taking us to 2020 that will see all BC’s 152 'high risk' schools upgraded. It is time we advocate for those who cannot - we owe it to our children, teachers and school staff to ensure they are all safe in the event of an earthquake. In 2004 a promise was made to our children – let’s make sure that Government of BC and the Vancouver School Board honours it. For more information, please view our video on YouTube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P-DxAVPm1t8
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