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No new Richmond seismic projects approved in two years

School board chair Sandra Nixon said she's 'hopeful' Richmond will get seismic projects approved for next year
Mitchell elementary school, Richmond BC
Mitchell elementary in Richmond is undergoing seismic upgrading. Google Maps photo

Richmond School District hasn’t had any new seismic projects approved in the last two years.

But the board of education chair, Sandra Nixon, said she’s “hopeful” some will be approved in the next round, with a response from the Ministry of Education expected in the next few weeks.

Nixon said there was no explanation from the ministry why no projects were approved over the past two years.

The school district submits a capital plan every year which shows its priorities, and the ministry of education provides the funding for both major and minor capital projects.

The school district can add “extras” to the project with its own funds.

The Richmond School District currently has $26 million in unrestricted capital funds.

However, a recent recommendation from district staff suggested the board spend $12 million on improving ventilation for 17 elementary schools that currently don’t have mechanical ventilation.

Trustee Donna Sargent raised concerns at last week’s school board meeting that if that much were spent on ventilation, it would take away from other projects, like those done in conjunction with seismic projects.

Nixon said she didn’t think the school district would have to choose between ventilation and “extras” during seismic upgrades.

“I’m not personally convinced that it’s an either/or question – the board has other assets and other strategies,” she said, adding the board expects it will get some grants to help cover the ventilation upgrades.

Nixon referenced some properties that the school district owns but doesn’t need, and, while they’re not currently considered surplus properties, they could be “leveraged.”

The school district has a seismic project office, with staff partially paid for by the province.

Currently there are five seismic projects underway.

The priority seismic projects for 2022 are DeBeck elementary, Dixon elementary, Diefenbaker elementary and McNair secondary.

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