Editorial: Want to place a bet? That’s what we’ve been doing on seismic safety in schools

Editorial: Want to place a bet? That’s what we’ve been doing on seismic safety in schools

Not all of our schools are up to seismic standards

It’s a little disconcerting that our government is essentially betting that we’re not going to have a severe earthquake in the next few years.

And they have been quietly doing so for more than 10 years.

One of the most heart-wrenching images from the recent Mexico City earthquake was that of rescue workers trying to find survivors in the remains of a collapsed school.

The floors of the building had pancaked down as the earth shook beneath, killing students and teachers unlucky enough to be in the affected wing.

While much of our infrastructure is in better shape than old buildings in Mexico, not all of it is up to seismic standards, including portions of our schools.

We’ve all read about seismic upgrades in various stages of completion or planning or assessment and the amounts of money being put into it in the last decade. But some may be surprised to learn that we’re not ship-shape yet. Our schools are still vulnerable. Cinder block construction of a certain age needs to be reinforced. Our district, along with all the other ones in the province, is on it, but the work is far from complete. Most of the schools in the Cowichan district are far down the priority list, which on the one hand means they’re a little safer than those higher up on the list, but on the other hand means it could still be many more years before work is ever even considered.

The thing is, we haven’t been addressing this issue with any particular urgency, it seems. Which is a little odd for a place where we’re told we could experience the Big One any day.

Money, of course, is the crux of the matter. Doing the necessary upgrades is expensive. But we think most would agree it’s a good use of our tax dollars to make sure our children aren’t going to be buried under the rubble of their school buildings if a big shaker hits.

We hope the Mexico quake is a wake-up call that will spur some more timely action on this important issue.


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