Bringing the house down?

In last week's throne speech, the Campbell administration mentioned the legislative buildings would be upgraded to meet modern seismic standards. But one wonders what the Families for School Seismic Safety think about the provincial government's commitment to historical preservation? After all, in its December 2006 newsletter, the association expressed concern "bureaucratic hold ups - such as due diligence reviews of projects in progress" - may delay the Campbell administration's 2004 promise to make all of British Columbia's schools earthquake safe within the next 15 years, at a cost of $1.5 billion. Well, we'll find out the answer to that question on Tuesday. That's when the association is thinking about issuing a statement concerning the issue - following Monday evening's Vancouver school board meeting.

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My child attends one of these schools that will collapse in a moderate to severe quake, so I asked Gary Collins what the BC Liberals would do about that in 2001, at an all-candidates meeting in Vancouver, after we'd just had a minor quake to remind us of the risk.

He slammed the NDP's twisted priorities in the 1990s for investing in seismically upgrading the central liquor warehouse while ignoring schools and of course committed that this would be a priority. The Premier made a major commitment to this just before the last elections. And for the last two federal elections, our MP David Emerson and all the other Vancouver MPs promised to make federal support of school seismic upgrading in BC a priority in Ottawa.

Six years later, my son's finally about to say goodbye to that school, which is still not even on the radar for seismic upgrading, certainly no more so than it was in 2001.

We have money for debt reduction, Gateways, highways, RAV, Olympics and government buildings and everything else but not to ensure that 100,000 BC school children aren't wiped out in moments in the next quake that we all know is coming, it's just a question of when.

Seattle took it seriously and managed to upgrade all their schools in just over a decade. Gary Collins was right in a sense--our priorities seem to be very twisted here in BC.

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