Great BC ShakeOut drills, seismic upgrades move schools toward earthquake safety

Over a hundred schools have been rated as high risk by the ministry and require seismic upgrades.

As thousands of British Columbians practiced the “drop, cover and hold on” drill as part of the Great BC ShakeOut this morning, Kitsilano Secondary School moved one step closer to seismic safety.

The first stage of the school’s seismic upgrades was completed today with the official opening of a new wing. It is all part of the provincial government’s $57.8 million seismic upgrades for the school.

The school has been a high priority for seismic upgrades for years, but there was much desire to maintain the school’s heritage facade.

“We are committed to upgrading everything that needs seismic upgrades,” said Mike Bernier, Minister of Education.

There are five other schools currently undergoing seismic upgrades in the province.

But there are over a hundred schools have been rated as high risk by the ministry because they are deemed vulnerable to damage and structural failure during an earthquake.

The government says money isn’t the issue when it comes to upgrading the other schools.

“It is now at the planning stage. It is working with the school districts,” said Bernier.

The provincial government has earmarked $500 million for seismic upgrades to 45 schools.

Practice run

The announcement comes as more than 780,000 British Columbians practiced how to “drop, cover and hold on,” as part of the Great BC ShakeOut on Thursday morning.

The drill is designed to raise earthquake preparedness because of the risk a major earthquake could strike the province at any time.

“In the last 30 days in British Columbia, we’ve had almost 400 small earthquakes. We have to be aware that this is happening on a daily basis and it really could be at any time that we experience this,” said Miranda Myles, volunteer with ShakeOut.

Organizers say during an earthquake you should:

DROP to the ground in simulation of a major earthquake;
Take COVER by getting under a sturdy desk or table, and
HOLD ON to it for 60 seconds


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