Education Minister Rob Fleming visited irvine elementary school Tuesday morning to announce that the 50-year-old Port Coquitlam school would be replaced to ensure students are safe in an earthquake.
A $24.3 million replacement is necessary, Fleming said, because the old building wouldn’t “survive” a large earthquake, adding that parents will no longer have to “live with anxiety”.
According to Fleming, construction of the new building will start in the spring of 2019 and be complete in the fall of 2020, with capacity for 505 students, 115 more than present.
The news was greeted with relief by parent Marc Simpson, who is part of a group Seismic Safety for BC Schools, which has been lobbying for a new school for some time.
“I’m hoping this group had something to do with this coming forward,” Simpson said.
However, he said he’d still like to see an early warning system installed at the school, and possibly quake-proof desks that could shelter staff and students in a quake.
“This is definitely a necessity and I‘m really happy they’re doing this but we need be vigilant,” said Simpson, who is the school’s representative at the District Parents Advisory Council and has children in grades 1 and 4 at the school.
It’s been five years since the school was identified as high risk in the event of a quake and last June, School District 43 advanced funds for architectural work on the school to move construction forward.
Port Coquitlam MLA Mike Farnworth, who is also minister of public safety and solicitor general, said he believed parent advocacy kept the school on the radar, noting that he helped gather names for the petition, and noted it’s good news for Port Coquitlam.
School District 43 has four other seismic replacements currently underway, for a total of almost $148 million. There are nine seismic projects remaining in SD43.
Since Sept. 1, 2017, the government has announced nearly $200 million to upgrade or replace 13 high-risk schools, including today's announcement.