Re: “School safety is paramount, say MLAs” Letters, Oct. 5.
Since the start of the seismic mitigation program (SMP), the BC Liberal–led government has delivered on four seismic remediation projects in Richmond, not three, as the Richmond MLAs have stated in their letter. Those projects were Steveston High (2007), Old Mitchell School (2008), Garden City (2009), and Brighouse (2011). The SMP provided the following seismic remedies for Steveston and Old Mitchell: demolition of the building. Garden City received a retrofit, and Brighouse was rebuilt, for the dual reason of cost to repair and the increasing number of central Richmond children. Gilmore elementary was advanced to the planning stages of the SMP and, surprise, was identified as a demolition project that the Richmond School Board declined to advance to the “construction” phase.
Will there be any schools left in Richmond after the provincial government finishes “remediating” them?
That the MLAs in Richmond want to get kudos for seismically mitigating TWO schools in nearly 10 years shows how much contempt they have for the intelligence of the average voter. That Richmond MLAs think bulldozing another two schools is a seismic repair, is shameful.
Suggesting that Cook and Hugh Boyd may be “considered” for the SMP this year is disingenuous. Cook is past its expected lifespan, and is facing increasing enrolment pressures in the City Centre. Replacing Cook needs to happen soon, seismic risks or not. Hugh Boyd is a secondary school, and as secondary schools have excess capacity, upgrading Hugh Boyd is doubtful. So, the government will consider it… and reject it.
Our MLAs are downloading responsibility for the SMP onto the school board as surely as they are downloading the rising costs of education. Richmond MLAs state that “the pace of projects is largely dependent on how quickly and efficiently local school boards map out their priorities” but the Richmond School Board has been asking for project approvals every single year for the last seven years. And nothing has been approved.
Richmond has 25 schools at risk in an earthquake, and over 7,000 children, plus educators and staff inside them. In British Columbia, 26 per cent of H1 (highest risk) schools waiting to be approved are in Richmond, while most are in Vancouver. Surrey, Victoria, and Ucluelet are tied in third place at just four per cent. Our MLAs are supposed to champion our city. If this is what their careful stewardship looks like, I’ll take my chances with someone else.
Richmond Schools Stand United