Nepal earthquake a reminder B.C. schools still waiting for seismic upgrades

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      The aftershocks of the earthquake in Nepal continue. Now there are at least 5,000 people dead. Many many more are injured and millions are impacted. Among the suffering and wounded are Canadians, desperately trying to get home and facing more hurdles as the airport is small, devastated by the quake, and operating sub-optimally. Hikers are stuck high up the mountains. Death and grief are all around.

      For one of the first days in a long time, this news really hit home for me. I thought deeply about the lives of the people. I wondered how it would feel to be a mother living in a place where the school was no more, many kids had died, and teachers were gone. What would it be like to be sleeping outside in inclement weather?

      This morning, while driving my teens to school, we listened to one more story of devastation in the wake of the recent earthquake. We were all silent as we heard about carnage and bravery. Many people were called to be their best selves, helping in heroic ways. I dropped the boys off with my usual “Mommy loves you” and realized that, yet again, I had willingly left two of the people most precious to me at a school that is at high risk for completely collapsing in case of an earthquake.

      We live in a country of plenty. Our provincial government has just declared a surplus. And yet, seismic upgrading for schools of our youngest citizens, our future, has been sickly slow. We have the technology, the people power, and the potential funding to make our schools safe. Do our governments lack the political will? Have we, the citizenry, not spoken loud enough about the gravity of this situation?

      As a parent, I feel sad and frightened that we are knowingly putting our children’s and youths’ lives at risk by the very act of sending them to gain an education. Why should we have to make that choice—between a good education and safety from the deathly threat of an earthquake?




      Apr 30, 2015 at 12:39am

      Funny but I was reminded how Nepal is basically a playground for self-obsessed upper-middle class westerners intent on "adventure" rather than immediately finding a political point to make. Kudos. The funny thing is that the Harcourt regime promised earthquake safe schools by 2000.


      May 1, 2015 at 7:32pm

      How strongly has your MLA advocated for urgent seismic upgrading? Or have they backed every single "balanced budget" without a thought for our schools' safety?


      May 7, 2015 at 6:13pm

      The seizmic upgrading to BC schools is superficial, at best. Cross-bracing walls and ceiling stabilizing does not render a building as stable as a new build - they will not be "safe"... they'll only be safer than before. The plus-side is that we've always had better building practices than in the countries where you see the big damage happen and we're unlikely to see similar destruction in a comparable quake.

      Wanna talk earthquake safety on a budget? Then we should be more concerned that the schools are still teaching "Duck and Cover" as a means of survival... like a school desk is going to bear the load of a collapsing ceiling - they may as well hand out umbrellas and tell the students to hold them over their heads. For your kids sake, tell them to sit against an exterior wall, or next to something big and solid, where there's a better chance of not being crushed to death.

      Triangle of Life...