the thirties grind

get up, go to work, raise kids, pay bills, sleep. repeat.

What if your kid’s Vancouver school crumbles in an earthquake?

earthquake1 Alaska Earthquake March 27, 1964. Wreckage of Government Hill... earthquake3 SONY DSC earthquake5


These are images from around the world of schools that have been damaged in earthquakes.  If you have been paying attention to the news recently, there has been a lot of squabbling and finger pointing going on between the Vancouver School Board and Ministry of Education in regards to seismic upgrades that are desperately needed in our public schools.  It is frightening how many schools are in need of upgrades…many of them (including my own children’s school) are deemed to be Red = High 1 (Most vulnerable structure; at highest risk of widespread damage or structural failure; not reparable after event).

Vancouver has 40 schools that are not yet approved by the government to proceed with upgrades. In the province, there are 126 schools that are identified as high-risk, but that are not yet approved to proceed.  You can check out this interactive map created by the Vancouver Sun to see how your child’s school stacks up.


Most of the arguments around the upgrades have to do with the scope of the work needed.  It would seem neither side can settle on whether the upgrades should just make the buildings earthquake safe or if while the seismic upgrades are being done other maintenance issues should be tackled.  There is also the question of where students would be accommodated while updates are happening…the Ministry does not want to fun portables to house them.

Here’s the thing…people’s lives are at stake.  My children’s lives are at stake.  The lives of teachers and SEAs and principals and custodians are in jeopardy each and every time they walk into one of these shoddy structures.

Can I ask why we are having a plebiscite on the Metro Vancouver transit system…on building millions of dollars of infrastructure, and yet we are sitting on our hands when it comes to this issue??  Why did we spend $500 million on a new roof for B.C. Place when our children’s schools are not safe for them to be in?  When (it is not a question of “if” anymore) an earthquake does hit our region and even one child dies in a school, the responsibility for this will rest solely on our government.

I get the sense that politicians are just hoping it doesn’t happen on their watch…and I’m disgusted.

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5 thoughts on “What if your kid’s Vancouver school crumbles in an earthquake?

  1. Seismic Gal on said:

    I’m offended that you say in your tweet linking here that you are not sure the VSB cares about this. Why would they hold off on upgrades if this is what they are advocating for?

    • TheThirtiesGrind on said:

      I think both sides are doing their usual finger pointing instead of actually getting down to business and fixing the problem. It’s politics getting in the way of what should really be a community health concern.

  2. Our contracting company sees a lot of these tenders and goes to site meetings every year concerning schools maintenance, roofing, building and seismic upgrades. It all comes down to $$$$. Every single year. There’s not enough money to get all the schools done at once, or even in a 5 or 10 year program. They pick and choose and do what CAN be done, although it’s hardly enough.

  3. Thanks for the post on this issue. The idea of an earthquake while my kids are in their high-risk school gives me ulcers. I share your frustrations!

  4. Barry Rueger on said:

    Writer Bill Bryson (speaking of England) says it best:

    “This is the sixth richest country in the world. We can afford to have things. When I first came here this country was much poorer, but much better looked after. Roundabouts had flowerbeds in them and things like that. There is this mania that we can’t afford things, which is not true. If we could afford it then we can certainly afford it now and as a society we can afford to put some geraniums in a planter. And if government really can’t afford to meet its bills then it should tax us more. It shouldn’t be cutting all the time and diminishing the quality of life for everybody. Many people can afford to pay more in taxes or in fees and I would rather we spent more freely and taxed more freely.””

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