Minister tells VSB to sign seismic deal
Education Minister Peter Fassbender. (STEPHANIE CHAN/24 HOURS)
There’s still no word on when the teachers’ strike may end — but there is one deadline the province’s education minister is setting: the Vancouver School Board needs to sign a seismic upgrades agreement in nine days — or else.
Minister Peter Fassbender stressed he is not trying to tell the local school board what to do.
He said idea of a seismic project office was discussed for more than two years to address Vancouver’s disproportionate amount of old schools.
Fassbender said it will be a “jointly managed” office to figure out how and where Vancouver should spend the $1 billion it would take to make schools earthquake-safe.
“We’re not imposing this, we are simply saying let’s do it co-operatively,” Fassbender said. “If they choose not to do that, they’re making that choice, and the government will have to do look at what we do with the dollars we have for seismic upgrades.”
VSB chairwoman Patti Bacchus said the province has changed the deal and is now asking for 50% control.
“It potentially limits our ability to work with communities and the public,” she said.
“It looks to me like they’re really holding the safety of kids hostage. ‘If the VSB doesn’t give up some of its authority, we’re not going to allow them to make schools safe.’”