NDP questions school upgrade cancellations

NDP leader John Horgan, Education Minister Mike Bernier clash over seismic upgrades cancelled in Victoria and Metro Vancouver

NDP leader John Horgan speaks to reporters in Victoria Wednesday.

NDP leader John Horgan speaks to reporters in Victoria Wednesday.

School building upgrades are shaping up as a battleground for next year’s B.C. election, with the B.C. Liberal government rolling out repair projects under its expanded “fix-it” fund, and the NDP questioning if politics caused the cancellation of two seismic upgrade projects.

NDP leader John Horgan released freedom of information documents Wednesday related to the cancellation of seismic upgrades at Shoreline Middle School in Greater Victoria and Minnekhada Middle School in Port Coquitlam.

The schools had been slated for upgrades, but projects were cancelled due to low capacity, with Shoreline projected to be 65 per cent full over the next five years.

Horgan pointed to recent announcements that rural schools in the Okanagan and Cariboo were being spared from closure, but two high-risk schools in bedrock NDP constituencies were not going ahead.

“Why is it that the government had money to sprinkle on their problems in Quesnel, sprinkle on their problems in Osoyoos, to sprinkle on their problems in Penticton, but they don’t have the money to protect children in Port Coquitlam and in Greater Victoria?” Horgan said.

Education Minister Mike Bernier issued a statement rejecting Horgan’s criticism. The Victoria school district has four other schools that are higher priorities for upgrades than Shoreline, and the ministry and the Port Coquitlam district are working on final approval for Minnekhada, he said.

“The opposition leader must have missed the two brand-new schools in his own riding or the fact that that largest seismic project in B.C. is the $106 million replacement of New Westminster Secondary,” Bernier said.

Premier Christy Clark announced seismic upgrades to 45 schools, including Minnekhada and Shoreline, a month before the 2013 election.

On Wednesday, the education ministry announced new non-seismic repairs to schools around the province, mostly plumbing, heating and roof repairs. The announcement has a heavy emphasis on Vancouver, where Bernier has fired the board and put a hold on school closures despite lower occupancy rates than any other B.C. school district.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Volunteers from Semiahmoo Secondary joined with members of the Lower Mainland Green Team and the White Rock and South Surrey Naturalists Wednesday to remove invasive plants from White Rock’s Ruth Johnson Park. (Contributed photo)
Students, volunteers remove invasive plants from White Rock’s Ruth Johnson Park

Day-long project a collaboration between city, Lower Mainland Green Team

Labour Minister Harry Bains addressing Surrey Board of Trade digital meeting Friday. (Screen shot)
Labour Minister says Surrey businesses’ resilience through pandemic ‘impressive’

‘Surrey’s effort in bending the curve has been among the best,’ Harry Bains says

Raj Singh Toor (left) with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudea after an official apology for the treatment of Komagata Maru passengers in 1914. (Contributed photo)
Request made for City of White Rock to honour Komagata Maru passengers

Raj Singh Toor confident city will rename ‘street, park or city asset’ in honour of 1914 tragedy

A memorial to Hudson Brooks grew quickly outside the South Surrey RCMP detachment following his July 2015 death at the hands of police. (File photo)
Inquest yields ‘sliver of justice’ for South Surrey’s Hudson Brooks: brother

Beau Brooks says he’s not optimistic call for increased RCMP training will bear fruit

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C. on the COVID-19 situation. (B.C. government)
Dr. Bonnie Henry predicts a ‘post-pandemic world’ for B.C. this summer

‘Extending this second dose provides very high real-world protection to more people, sooner’

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Malawian police guard AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines after the shipment arrived in Lilongwe, Malawi, Friday March 5, 2021. Canada is expecting its first shipments of AstraZeneca vaccine next week. (Associated Press/Thoko Chikondi)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 cases climb to 634 Friday, four more deaths

Currently 255 people in hospital, 66 in intensive care

A crashed helicopter is seen near Mt. Gardner on Bowen Island on Friday March 5, 2021. Two people were taken to hospital in serious but stable condition after the crash. (Irene Paulus/contributed)
2 people in serious condition after helicopter goes down on Bowen Island

Unclear how many passengers aboard and unclear where the helicopter was going

Supporters rally outside court as Pastor James Coates of GraceLife Church is in court to appeal bail conditions, after he was arrested for holding day services in violation of COVID-19 rules, in Edmonton, Alta., on Thursday March 4, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
‘Law remains valid:’ Pastor accused of violating health orders to remain in jail

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms is representing the pastor

The Netflix logo on an iPhone. B.C. delayed imposing sales tax on digital services and sweetened carbonated beverages as part of its response to COVID-19. Those taxes take effect April 1, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Matt Rourke
B.C. applies 7% sales tax on streaming, vaping, sweet drinks April 1

Measures from 2020 budget were delayed due to COVID-19

Chief Don Tom of the Tsartlip First Nation was outraged after Green MLA Adam Olsen revealed on social media that the community had been experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak – a fact the First Nation had chosen to keep private to avoid racist backlash as experienced by the Cowichan Tribes when an outbreak was declared there in January. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. First Nation ‘outraged’ after Green MLA reveals COVID-19 outbreak

Tsartlip First Nation chief shares concerns about racist backlash, MLA apologizes

A lawyer wears a face mask and gloves to curb the spread of COVID-19 while waiting to enter B.C. Supreme Court, in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, Aug. 28, 2020. British Columbia’s highest court has sided with the land owner in a dispute over public access to public land. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. high court finds in favour of large landowner in fight over access to pair of lakes

The Nicola Valley Fish and Game Club launched legal action after the cattle company blocked road and trail access

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds a press conference in Ottawa Friday, March 5, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Trudeau holds firm on premiers’ health-care funding demands, COVID-19 aid comes first

Premiers argue that the current amount doesn’t keep pace with yearly cost increases of about five per cent

Most Read