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Myrtle Philip school to receive $2 million worth of seismic upgrades

Local school one of 80 to receive provincial funding

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Clare Ogilvie

The provincial government will spend over $2 million upgrading Myrtle Philip school to protect it from earthquakes.

The money will be spent on the roof, upgrading wall systems in the classrooms and gym, and making sure internal fittings and foundations are up to current building codes.

"I am glad that our school is going to be safer and that we will be one of the first schools in the province looked at," said Principal Ron Albertin.

"I hope we will be able to get through this and it won’t be too disruptive next year, but the outcome will be worth it."

The provincial money, announced earlier this week, targets 80 schools around B.C. at high risk of damage should there be an earthquake. The work will take place over the next three years and cost $254 million.

While Albertin welcomes the funding for upgrades he admitted to being a bit surprised that Myrtle Philip, which was built in 1992, was chosen.

"The school is not that old," he said. "So I was surprised that it should be chosen as part of the first wave."

Howe Sound School District director of facilities and services Rick Hume said seismic upgrades in the district have been a priority for some years and work has been done on several schools already.

"That meant that Myrtle Philip was next on the list," he said.

Myrtle Philip is built on solid ground said Hume, but structures such as the two storey gym wall need to be upgraded to ensure safety in case of an earthquake.

The upgrades are part of a $1.5 billion earthquake safety plan announced by Education Minister Tom Christensen to mark Education Week.

"No other government in the history of this province has committed to such a major investment in protecting student safety," said Christensen in a statement.

Fifty-six of the schools which will receive funding are located in the Lower Mainland, 19 on Vancouver Island and five are in other coastal communities.

The schools were selected based on an extensive seismic assessment conducted by engineers using assessment tools developed in co-operation with the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of B.C. Schools were then prioritized based on the number of high-risk components, the seismic hazard zone and soil type.

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