October 31, 2008 is the six-year anniversary of the tragic earthquake that killed 26 Italian kindergarten children. They perished when a 5.4 Richter Scale earthquake destroyed their school, leaving other buildings standing. This summer, thousands of Chinese children died when earthquakes flattened their old, unsafe schools.
Five years ago, Vancouver student leaders and parents held a press conference at Lord Kitchener School to let the school board and provincial government know Vancouver’s schools are at risk of catastrophic damage and urgent action is needed. 35,000 Vancouver students are spending their days in unsafe schools. The majority of schools in Vancouver are a medium or high earthquake risk.
The former COPE School Board identified 16 schools for seismic fast-tracking. However, under the following NPA board, none of those 16 schools have been upgraded. Many haven’t even been started.
A COPE school board will again make earthquake proofing a top priority.
COPE school board candidate Alvin Singh, one of the Vancouver Technical students who started the earthquake safety campaign in 2001, is disappointed that years later the NPA is still relying on parents to move projects forward.
“It seems that any movement comes despite this board, not because of it,” said Singh. “We now have Ministry of Education staff writing letters to our board telling them to meet with parents. Why does the NPA need to be told to consult? A COPE-Vision board won’t need to be told to work with parents, it’s going to be our top priority.”
-Establish and publish clear timelines, milestones, and annual public reporting for all school seismic projects.
-Provide leadership in consulting with parents and community members to ensure upgraded or new schools meet local neighbourhood priorities.
– Make sure the Provincial Government keeps its promise to make our schools safe.
-Work with the Provincial Government to accelerate the 15-year timeline for completion of all schools.
For information: Dave Fields, COPE Communications, 604-722-4775