NDP questions school upgrade cancellations

NDP leader John Horgan, Education Minister Mike Bernier clash over seismic upgrades cancelled in Victoria and Metro Vancouver

NDP leader John Horgan speaks to reporters in Victoria Wednesday.

School building upgrades are shaping up as a battleground for next year’s B.C. election, with the B.C. Liberal government rolling out repair projects under its expanded “fix-it” fund, and the NDP questioning if politics caused the cancellation of two seismic upgrade projects.

NDP leader John Horgan released freedom of information documents Wednesday related to the cancellation of seismic upgrades at Shoreline Middle School in Greater Victoria and Minnekhada Middle School in Port Coquitlam.

The schools had been slated for upgrades, but projects were cancelled due to low capacity, with Shoreline projected to be 65 per cent full over the next five years.

Horgan pointed to recent announcements that rural schools in the Okanagan and Cariboo were being spared from closure, but two high-risk schools in bedrock NDP constituencies were not going ahead.

“Why is it that the government had money to sprinkle on their problems in Quesnel, sprinkle on their problems in Osoyoos, to sprinkle on their problems in Penticton, but they don’t have the money to protect children in Port Coquitlam and in Greater Victoria?” Horgan said.

Education Minister Mike Bernier issued a statement rejecting Horgan’s criticism. The Victoria school district has four other schools that are higher priorities for upgrades than Shoreline, and the ministry and the Port Coquitlam district are working on final approval for Minnekhada, he said.

“The opposition leader must have missed the two brand-new schools in his own riding or the fact that that largest seismic project in B.C. is the $106 million replacement of New Westminster Secondary,” Bernier said.

Premier Christy Clark announced seismic upgrades to 45 schools, including Minnekhada and Shoreline, a month before the 2013 election.

On Wednesday, the education ministry announced new non-seismic repairs to schools around the province, mostly plumbing, heating and roof repairs. The announcement has a heavy emphasis on Vancouver, where Bernier has fired the board and put a hold on school closures despite lower occupancy rates than any other B.C. school district.

 

Just Posted

UPDATE: Tsunami warning cancelled for coastal British Columbia

Warning issued following 7.9 earthquake off Kodiak, AK

Doukhobor Heritage Society seeks zoning change for water plant

Questions remain on how taking 500,000 litres a day from aquifer would affect local water supply

Can the Arrow Lakes ecosystem be restored?

With cooperation and coordination, a local environmental group says it can

Judgment reserved in Nakusp school sex trial

Trial concluded today with lawyer’s summations

Former teacher acquitted on two of four sex charges

Judge found no evidence to support sexual assault charges against Shanny McIvor

Testing the Google Arts & Culture app

Going face to face with art

Man faces 48 charges in string of random Toronto shootings

The string of unprovoked shootings began Jan.9, say police

‘Shape of Water’ producer, Christopher Plummer among Canadian Oscar nominees

Guillermo del Toro film about merman romance earns 13 nominations

Canada, TPP agrees to revised deal without the United States

Canada and the remaining members of the Trans-Pacific Partnership have agreed to a revised trade agreement

Tsunami warnings 101: Canada

Here are some things to know about tsunami alerts in Canada and how they work

Rogers Media cuts ties with Vice Canada

Rogers Media and Vice Canada are ending their three-year-old partnership, pulling Viceland TV channel off the air

VIDEO: Fuel truck and train collide in B.C. causing massive fire

More emergency crews are still arriving on scene of a massive fire at the Port Coquitlam rail yard.

Back to work: U.S. government shutdown ends after Democrats relent

Short-term spending measure means both sides could see another shutdown stalemate in three weeks

Most Read