UCLUELET, B.C. — Construction has started on a Vancouver Island project to improve student safety.
Crews are working on Ucluelet Elementary, a partial replacement of Ucluelet Secondary and a new Neighbourhood Learning Centre.
“B.C. families want to know their children will be protected if an earthquake should occur,” said Rob Fleming, minister of education, in a statement. “From the start, our government has made seismic safety a priority. We’re working together with districts across the province to ensure every student can learn in a seismically safe school as fast as possible.”
The seismic projects are costing the province $44.8 million. Both schools are located on the same site. Construction is being co-ordinated so students can still attend school at the site while work is being done. Officials stated the projects will result in more than 450 seismically safe student seats in the community.
“West Coast students and families have been waiting for quality learning environments for far too long,” said Scott Fraser, MLA for Mid Island-Pacific Rim. “After years of neglect, I’m proud our government is delivering on the seismically safe schools that our kids deserve.”
The province expects the schools will be complete by spring 2022.
“We are extremely pleased that the project is proceeding under these challenging times and are very excited to see the project practically transform itself from a set of architectural drawings to modern, safe facilities that will serve learners on the West Coast for years to come,” said Pam Craig, chair of the Alberni School District’s board of education.
The new Neighbourhood Learning Centre will be used for child care programming, increasing the amount of child care spaces for Ucluelet.
Ucluelet Secondary school serves students from Ucluelet and Tofino. Four out of five of the school’s blocks will be replaced, including classrooms, administration, the library and music room. These sections were built between 1947 and 1981. The gym and trades block, built in 1973, will have their seismic performance improved.
Seismic upgrades at Ucluelet Elementary school include a new elevator to improve accessibility, as well as structural upgrades. The StrongStart BC program currently occupies one classroom at the elementary school, and it will remain following the seismic upgrade.