Canada’s first-ever tsunami evacuation tower is being constructed in B.C.
The facility is being built at Gudangaay Tlaat’sa Naay (GTN) Secondary school in Masset, a remote, coastal community in the Haida Gwaii archipelago. The new tower will be a 10-metre-tall steel structure built on school property that includes storage for emergency supplies. The school’s current evacuation safe zone is more than 10 kilometres away from the school.
“Every family deserves to know their children will be safe at school, especially in coastal, remote communities like Masset,” said Jennifer Whiteside, minister of education, in a statement. “Our government’s Seismic Mitigation Program is investing in schools and communities throughout our province, and I can’t wait to see this one-of-a-kind project completed to protect the health and safety of the school community.”
The project is being mostly funded by the province, which will contribute $16.5 million for the tower and seismic upgrades to GTN. The Haida Gwaii Board of Education is providing $250,000. Once complete, the school will be house both GTN and Tahaygen Elementary students as a single-site K-12 facility.
Construction will also entail improvements to facilitate the wide range of student age groups, including a new main entrance, special education room and the creation of a secondary Xaad Kil Haida language learning space.
Construction on GTN and the tsunami evacuation tower is expected to start next summer and wrap up in fall 2022.
“We are so thrilled to be moving forward with this project as it will embody many things for our students,” said Dana Moraes, chair of the Haida Gwaii Board of Education. “Most importantly, a safer learning environment, but also it will provide additional educational opportunities and will house our students in one location, which will offer many remarkable opportunities. School District No. 50 (Haida Gwaii) also recognizes the uniqueness to having the first tsunami evacuation tower in Canada and the additional safety this offers to our students and families. Haawa to everyone for work that has gone into bringing this project to fruition.”