Tillicum elementary gets seismic upgrades

Work completed on $2.6 million project to make school safer in event of an earthquake

Education Minister Mike Bernier (centre) chats with architect Brad Shuya (left) and district engineer Graham Taylor about new steel beams inside a classroom at Tillicum elementary on Monday. The 98-year-old school recently received $2.6 million in seismic upgrades from a partnership between the provincial government and the Greater Victoria board of education.

After 98 years, Tillicum Elementary has received some much-needed seismic upgrades thanks to a collaboration between the provincial government and the Greater Victoria school district.

On Monday, Education Minister Mike Bernier appeared at the wood-frame K-5 school in Saanich to highlight the innovative construction techniques used to make the school safer in case of an earthquake, as part of the government’s Seismic Mitigation Program. The improvements totalled $2.6 million, with $1 million coming from the school district’s restricted capital.

The upgrades were completed this past summer and included adding a seismic steel beam support system, concrete shearwalls and steel restraint beams, as well as brazing corridor columns with steel columns.

“When I was driving up to this particular school, it was hard, when I looked at it, to fathom that this is almost 100 years old,” Bernier told reporters. “I know it’s had a couple of renovations in the ’40s and ’60s, but in saying that, it just looks amazing on the outside and it’ll be great to see all the hard work everybody’s put into it.

“As a province, we’ve ensured that we have the money available for any school that needs to be seismically upgraded, but that’s also making sure that we work closely with the school boards to make sure that work takes place.”

Bernier toured the school with district engineers Graham Taylor and Jim Soles, as well as district architect Brad Shuya, along with three student ambassadors.

Through the Greater Victoria board of education’s partnership with the B.C. government, 14 out of 24 projects have already been completed at schools in the area.

The district used “swing space” to house students during upgrades at other schools, including Quadra, Margaret Jenkins, Willows and George Jay elementary schools, and Central middle school.

“The Greater Victoria school district is happy to be working with the Ministry of Education on the seismic upgrading of our school buildings so our schools are healthy and safe places for our students to learn,” said board chair Edith Loring-Kuhanga in a statement.

“Tillicum elementary school is an essential facility in our district and we are very pleased that it has been made safer for our students, staff and the community.”

According to a press release, the board is in the process of seismically upgrading Cloverdale Traditional school, and are in the planning stages for three other facilities in the district.

 

jacob.zinn@saanichnews.com

 

 

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