Bayview Seismic Committee
Who's on the Bayview Seismic Committee?
Tanya Kyi, Valia Thorburn, Gili Avrahami, Kathy Hobbs, Knut Boeck, Maria Dos Santos
What's happening right now?
Our PDR (feasibility study) is complete, and under review by the Seismic Project Office's steering committee. The steering committee is made up of the Deputy Minister of Education, the CEO of Partnerships BC, and the VSB superintendent and secretary-treasurer. Once the steering committee has approved the PDR, Bayview parents will learn which option has been recommended.
Led by project manager Kent Grier, a team of architects and engineers have costed three options for creating a seismically safe Bayview:
1. Renovating the existing building.
2. Replacing the building with a new structure built in the current location.
3. Replacing the building with a new structure built on the current playing field.
If the existing building is renovated, or if it's rebuilt on the current footprint, students will be bussed to another location during construction. If the school is rebuilt on the playing field, it may be possible for students to remain in the old building while a new structure is constructed.
We have been waiting since October 2016 for the PDR findings to be reviewed and released. On January 18th, 2017, the seismic committee wrote to Minister of Education Mike Bernier, Deputy Minister Dave Byng, and MLA David Eby to ask that the process be expedited. On January 23rd, David Eby sent a letter to the Minister of Education requesting a progress update. You can read his letter here. Dave Byng's reply to Bayview parents can be seen here.
What did previous studies suggest?
In 2014, the school board completed the first stage of the upgrade process -- a report called the Seismic Project Identification Report (SPIR). This is an engineering report which helps staff predict the costs of an upgrade. In some cases, a retrofit can be accomplished at similar cost to a new building, and the province is often willing to fund upgrades of existing heritage buildings if costs are similar.
In Bayview's case, costs are likely not similar. The SPIR identified the following construction needs, if the building were to be upgraded:
* New concrete walls throughout the building, new foundations, new pilings drilled.
* Flooring in most of the school would be destroyed and replaced.
* On first and second floors, new concrete walls would be built against existing walls (making rooms slightly smaller).
* Plywood sheer walls would be added to the attic/roof.
This sort of seismic retrofit would meet “life safety standards," meaning everyone would get out of the building alive. But, the building would not necessarily be usable after an earthquake.
According to VSB staff, and our parent architect, an upgrade would bring Bayview to 0.7 of current building codes. A new school would be built to 1.3 of code. Because building codes are created around a theoretical "design earthquake," this difference in stability could be a significant factor during a major earthquake.
The SPIR costing indicates that the engineering costs alone for upgrading Bayview would be approximately $11.5 million. The upgrading project in its entirety would cost between $17 and 23 million.
As of 2014, a new school for Bayview's population size cost about $12 million to build. VSB staff repeated several times in meeting with the seismic committee that Bayview is "likely headed toward a new school." However, this was before the upgrade process was handed over to the new Seismic Project Office. We will know more once the PDR findings are released.
How long will an upgrade take?
Construction is unlikely until at least the 2019/2020 school year. When there has been consensus between parents, teachers, and community members, some schools have moved from proposal to construction in as little as three years. Other schools have faced divisions over heritage value versus safety or cost, and those projects have taken seven years or more. (Nine in the case of Strathcona Elementary, which finally received government approval in 2014.)
We'd like to ensure the upgrade process goes smoothly and efficiently, so that our children are in a safe building as quickly as possible.
Is there other background info I should know?
Bayview Community School was built in 1914 and has significant historical value.
Unfortunately, Bayview’s age has led to both maintenance concerns (lead pipes, asbestos, outdated heating systems, etc.) and seismic concerns. The Province of BC Seismic Assessment Program in 2004 and the follow-up Vancouver School Board audit completed by Coriolis Consulting in 2011 both ranked Bayview at high risk of structural failure in the case of an earthquake.
These are schools that were built in Long Beach, California, at almost the same time as Bayview. Like Bayview, they were unreinforced brick buildings with inferior mortar. A five-second-long magnitude 6.25 earthquake struck Long Beach in March 1933.
What does the Seismic Committee Do?
We are working to ensure our upgrade proceeds as quickly as possible. Many projects have faced repeated delays, but we want Bayview students in a safe building soon.
If the school is rebuilt, the new building will likely be smaller than the existing school. Our committee wants to ensure our upgraded school is built to high quality standards, offers significant space for future growth, and accommodates our heritage as a community school, host to preschools, out-of-school care, and several community organizations.
We also want to make sure the voices of parents, teachers, and community members are clearly heard in the upgrade process. We're working on a survey to be distributed once our PDR begins.
MLA David Eby raised the issue of Bayview's seismic upgrade during the government debate on budget estimates in April 2016. Minister of Education Mike Bernier assured Mr. Eby that our upgrade was a government priority. You can watch their exchange here.
Bayview parents staged a "Not Safe to Shake" rally on May 7th, 2015. Trustees Christopher Richardson, Patti Bacchus, Mike Lombardi, Janet Fraser, and Penny Noble attended, along with opposition critic for education Rob Fleming. The rally was covered by The Georgia Straight and by Vancouver 24 Hours.
Many parents sent letters in February and March 2015 to Minister of Education Peter Fassbender, Premier Christy Clark, and VSB Chair Christopher Richardson, expressing our concerns about these delays. (Sample Letter)
Bayview's seismic needs were previously highlighted by several media outlets, including CBC and CTV.
In 2012, parents wrote letters en masse to both Christy Clark, our local MLA, and Don MacRae, then Minister of Education. We received a response from Don MacRae on November 8, 2012.
David Eby, the NDP candidate in our riding, toured the school on February 8, 2013. During the July 2013 budget debates, he also asked Minister of Education Peter Fassbender to expedite our upgrade and those of other Vancouver schools.
The Seismic Committee started a petition which has over 1200 signatures to date. Members also created a video tour of our school. The video has over 800 views and can be seen here.
What Can You Do?
You can also write a letter to your local newspaper. The Vancouver Courier and The Vancouver Sun have published letters from concerned Bayview parents.