Let’s #GetSeismicRight

May 22, 2019

The VDLC is joining with parents, education workers, and others in calling for the provincial government to #GetSeismicRight. Let’s make seismic upgrading decisions with the big picture in mind, and ensure that all kids have the seismically safe space they need learn.  

The following recommendation was adopted at the May 21, 2019, regular meeting of the VDLC. 

Subject:  #GetSeismicRight

BECAUSE Edith Cavell is a 100-year old elementary school which could be upgraded at a cost of $15.5M, or replaced with a brand new school at a cost of $20M.  The upgrade option was selected on the basis of initial cost savings; and

BECAUSE this decision was a faulty one, because the Memorandum of Understanding between the Ministry of Education and the Vancouver Project Office does not permit deferred maintenance and capital expansion to be factored into decisions related to seismic upgrades; and

BECAUSE in the example of Edith Cavell, this will prove costly to the public because there is $6M of deferred maintenance that was not factored into the cost consideration. Therefore, while it appeared cheaper to upgrade the school, it will not be in the long run. Additionally, a new school would have a new life cycle and be built to safer seismic standards which importantly means the school would be much more likely to be usable after an earthquake; and

BECAUSE to further compound the issue, Edith Cavell, and nearby elementary schools, have a lottery system and turn away Kindergarten kids in their catchment every year, thereby demonstrating a need for expansion. But since capital expansion and seismic upgrade decisions are required to be managed separately, this data on future and current demographics is ignored. All of this results in a faulty method of evaluating projects and a poor system to allocating resources, whereby not all factors are able to be considered in seismic upgrade decisions,

  1. Future demographics are not allowed to be considered in seismic projects, so even if it is a brand-new school, it won’t be built to adequately meet the demand of more kids moving into the growing catchment, and,
  2. BC Area Standards rules resulted in a footprint that will be 32% smaller than the school it replaces and will have no spaces for the arts, sports, and community.

THE VANCOUVER AND DISTRICT LABOUR COUNCIL WILL call on Minister of Education Rob Fleming to work with the Vancouver Project Office to amend the Memorandum of Understanding so that seismic upgrading decisions can be made with a fulsome consideration of the needs of the students and staff, future demographics, capital expense needs, deferred maintenance, and other factors.

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