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Whiteside, Bridge will get seismic upgrades

By Richmond Sentinel

Published 4:31 PST, Thu January 21, 2021

Nearly 700 more Richmond students will soon be learning in safer classrooms when seismic upgrades are complete at James Whiteside and William Bridge elementary schools.

"Safe learning environments are essential to students' well-being as they learn, grow and play in the important early years of their education," said Education Minister Jennifer Whiteside.

The Government of B.C. is investing $31.2 million for seismic upgrades at the two schools to help ensure they can protect students and staff in the event of an earthquake. The Richmond School District is contributing $2.14 million to include further improvements to James Whiteside Elementary, including accessibility, HVAC, interior finishing and energy enhancements.

For both projects, staff and students are expected to remain on site during construction, which is scheduled to begin in early 2022 and be completed by mid-2023.

"William Bridge Elementary and James Whiteside Elementary will soon be aligned to modern seismic standards and these foundational changes will be welcomed by students, staff and parents," said Richmond school board chair Sandra Nixon. "The Richmond board fully supports these seismic updates as they will allow for both schools to continue to safely serve students and communities now and in the years ahead."

These investments are part of the province's work to accelerate investments in seismic safety at high-risk schools throughout British Columbia. Funding now totals $129.7 million invested for seismic upgrades at 11 Richmond schools in fewer than four years.

"Between 2010 and 2017, only one school was approved for seismic upgrades in Richmond, but our government is doing things differently to ensure students are safe at school," said Aman Singh, MLA for Richmond-Queensborough. "With 11 schools now approved for seismic upgrades, nearly 4,500 more families can send their children to school with the comfort of knowing they'll be safe in an earthquake."

Schools in Richmond under construction for seismic upgrades include Mitchell, Manoah Steves, F.A. Tomsett, James McKinney and Maple Lane elementary schools. Upgrades have recently been completed at Hugh Boyd Secondary, William Cook, Robert J. Tait, and W.D. Ferris elementary schools.

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