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School board seeks support for upgrades 0

By Michael Mui, 24 Hours Vancouver

The remainder of Vancouver’s seismically unstable public schools will require $850 million to upgrade by the promised 2020 deadline.

In a presentation to city council Wednesday, the Vancouver School Board’s five-year capital plan is asking for funds from the B.C. Ministry of Education to begin work on the majority of 42 remaining schools slated for earthquake upgrades in the coming years.

“None of this $850 million is guaranteed,” VSB chairwoman Patti Bacchus said while asking council for its support and advocacy of seismic upgrades.

“The ministry asks us for our request, this is our request and it’s probably the largest request they’ve seen.”

City council doesn’t have any jurisdiction to bear the construction cost, so the board is exploring new ways to fundraise.

Jim Meschino, Vancouver’s school director of facilities, told council east-side schools were at 50-70% capacity with diminished enrolment. He suggested possibly renting out the spaces to community groups or to the city itself.

“Let’s make use of this spare space versus boarding up the schools,” he said. “The challenge becomes … when the cost of moving into one of these facilities exceeds the capacity of that community organization.”

The board estimated the cost of upgrading without replacing the structures at $618 million. Replacing the same number of schools with new buildings, with higher quake resistance, energy consumption and other technology upgrades, would cost $857 million.

The board currently conducts school “feasibility” studies individually before deciding what route to take.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The remainder of Vancouver’s seismically unstable public schools will require $850 million to upgrade by the promised 2020 deadline.

In a presentation to city council Wednesday, the Vancouver School Board’s five-year capital plan is asking for funds from the B.C. Ministry of Education to begin work on the majority of 42 remaining schools slated for earthquake upgrades in the coming years.

“None of this $850 million is guaranteed,” VSB chairwoman Patti Bacchus said while asking council for its support and advocacy of seismic upgrades.

“The ministry asks us for our request, this is our request and it’s probably the largest request they’ve seen.”

City council doesn’t have any jurisdiction to bear the construction cost, so the board is exploring new ways to fundraise.

Jim Meschino, Vancouver’s school director of facilities, told council east-side schools were at 50-70% capacity with diminished enrolment. He suggested possibly renting out the spaces to community groups or to the city itself.

“Let’s make use of this spare space versus boarding up the schools,” he said. “The challenge becomes … when the cost of moving into one of these facilities exceeds the capacity of that community organization.”

Another issue is the fear of potential heritage-value loss if some schools are rebuilt entirely. Meschino noted it’s cheaper to fix old buildings, but the upgrades would only keep necessary escape routes in schools sound during a major quake. In the aftermath, the structures would be unusable.

The board estimated the cost of upgrading without replacing the structures at $618 million. Replacing the same number of schools with new buildings, with higher quake resistance, energy consumption and other technology upgrades, would cost $857 million.

The board currently conducts school “feasibility” studies individually before deciding what route to take.

 

 

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