On April 8, 2013, Premier Christy Clark visited Lord Tennyson Elementary School in Vancouver. There with the backdrop of photogenic students, Clark announced funding for seismic upgrades to 45 high-risk schools across BC — including Tennyson.
“Absolutely nothing is more important than keeping our kids safe,” said Clark in her speech at the school.
And why did she announce the funding just eight days before the launch of an election campaign?
“Earthquakes don’t wait until elections are over,” Clark said. “I am going to make sure we do the things we said we were going to do right up until the writ is dropped.”
In 2005, the BC Liberals promised to complete seismic upgrades to high risk schools by 2020. Eight days prior to the 2013 election, Clark renewed that same promise to British Columbia parents.
Last week, she broke it.
It wasn’t Clark but Education Minister Peter Fassbender who announced that Clark’s government was pushing back the deadline the completion of seismic upgrades. What was promised by 2020 will now not be complete until 2025, or 2030 if your child’s school is in Vancouver. Who knows? It may be longer. Fassbender even refused to call these dates hard deadlines.
So, according to Premier Clark earthquakes don’t wait for election campaigns, but apparently they’re happy to wait another five to ten years or more.
The kids at Lord Tennyson? Almost two years later — photo-op and election over — they’re still waiting for seismic upgrading to start on their school.
Across BC there are still 174 high-risk schools, over half of the schools identified as dangerous, waiting to even begin the seismic upgrading process.
Parents, we’d say it’s time high-time we hit our government like a ton of bricks. Organize to demand action now, not later. Let’s hope our kids are not buried under a ton of bricks before its done.