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Seismic funding secured for at-risk school 0

By Michael Mui, 24 Hours Vancouver

The 122-year-old Strathcona Elementary school in Vancouver will receive seismic upgrades thanks to funding from the Province of B.C.
(CARMINE MARINELLI/QMI AGENCY)

The 122-year-old Strathcona Elementary school in Vancouver will receive seismic upgrades thanks to funding from the Province of B.C. (CARMINE MARINELLI/QMI AGENCY)

B.C.’s education ministry has announced $25.6 million in seismic upgrades for the 122-year-old Strathcona Elementary, less than two weeks after riled parents questioned a nine-year delay in fixing the eastside Vancouver school.

Education Minister Peter Fassbender said the delay was due to a number of “issues that needed to be addressed.” before work can begin.

“I can’t think of a better time in the year, just before Christmas, to give this community a gift by saying, ‘We’re moving again. We’re going to do the work everybody’s been waiting for,’” he said on Tuesday.

School board chairwoman Patti Bacchus said there are still about 40 schools remaining in the district that need funding for upgrades. A large number of those are considered high-risk buildings.

“That means they’re at risk of significant structural damage in the event of an earthquake, even the possibility of collapse.”

District principal Dave Nelson said final designs would take up to 12 months to complete and construction itself would follow for a period of about three years.

However, a report to be presented at the school board on Wednesday reveals that two of the district’s existing capital projects — where ministry funding had been obtained — are now over budget.

District director of facilities Jim Meschino said the Queen Mary Elementary project — budgeted at $16.7 million — is $1 million in the red.

“Normally … when we’re in the initial part of the design, we may be slightly over budget, but we’ve been successful in making changes with our architects and engineers to bring it back into budget,” he explained, adding Queen Mary’s financial trouble is within the acceptable contingency budget.

In the case of International Village, the budget of about $12 million — which has a contingency of an additional $1.5 million — has been exceeded by $4.3 million.

Meschino said that’s because the plans initially anticipated an enrolment population of 360 students. New population figures, however, meant an additional two storeys would be needed to meet a capacity of 510 pupils.

“We are very hopeful we’ll be able to get the funding (for that),” he added. “There’s a strong business case for the funding, it’s supported by a cost analysis and engineering reports.”

 

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