Students at Keating Elementary school will soon be learning in a seismically safer school with four new classrooms, Rob Fleming, Minister of Education, announced today.
“The safety of students and staff is a key commitment of our government. All parents need to know their kids are going to school in a safe environment,” said Fleming. “The addition of four new classrooms will ensure that we meet the needs of Keating’s growing population, and that kids will not be learning in portables.”
As part of a commitment to investing in safe schools, the Government of British Columbia is announcing a $7.92-million seismic upgrade and four-classroom addition for Keating Elementary school, which includes a $343,000 contribution toward the expansion part of the project from the Saanich School District.
“On behalf of the Saanich Board of Education, I would like to express our appreciation for this most welcome decision,” said Victoria Martin, chair, School District 63 (Saanich) Board of Education. “This investment will ensure that Keating Elementary is safe and will have the capacity needed to serve the community for years to come.”
The original Keating Elementary school, on the same property, was a one-room schoolhouse. The existing structure was built in the early 1960s, with renovations in 1965, 1969, 1992 and 2010. One part of the school does not meet the Province’s seismic building requirements and will be upgraded. Four new classrooms will be built for use as a swing space during construction instead of portables, and will then accommodate students in the long term.
There are currently 411 students attending the dual-track school in Central Saanich, with over 70% of the student population in French Immersion. Projections indicate that Keating’s enrolment will be increasing slightly and consistently over the next 10 years. This addition will give the elementary school 100 more student spaces.
"Keating staff, parents and students are very grateful for the much-needed renewal and modernization of our school,” said Mary Lynn Heron, principal, Keating Elementary. “The Keating seismic upgrade not only ensures student and staff safety, but it provides us with much-needed space for our projected growth.”
Construction on the school is expected to begin this July, with completion set for March 2020.
Eight of SD63’s 10 seismic upgrades are complete. After Keating, there is only one school in the Saanich School District left to be upgraded.
Government is addressing the backlog of seismic projects in the province by accelerating funding approvals and reducing the time it takes to plan and upgrade a school. This includes collaborating with school districts and local governments to meet ambitious timelines.
The Province is working with Seismic Mitigation Program experts, including Engineers and Geoscientists BC, to look for ways to more efficiently and cost-effectively meet or exceed the building code for seismic safety.
- Government has committed $522 million over three years for seismic upgrades across B.C.
- Since launching the Seismic Mitigation Program, the Ministry of Education has spent over $1.6 billion to complete 168 high-risk seismic projects throughout the province.
- Phase 1 began with district assessments of schools, in order to determine the seismic risk and scope of upgrading work required.
- Phase 2 has continued with the upgrade of schools, as well as various educational components dealing with earthquake preparedness and safety during an earthquake.