Short changing Strathcona lacks long term vision

The provincial government recently announced $35 million in funding — for what are termed as routine capital grant upgrades: things like window and boiler upgrades, roof replacement and energy efficiencies.

Vancouverites, were of course disappointed that of the 109 projects, not one was in our local school district.

What piqued my interest though, is that of the relatively modest wishlist submitted as part of the VSB’s Routine Capital Plan Submission — most of the requests are for my local elementary school, Lord Strathcona.

Strathcona is currently undergoing a significant seismic upgrade project and was identified as needing about $2.5 million in (additional) routine capital upgrades: roof and window replacement, boiler replacement and mechanical upgrades.

As the VSB’s Manager of Maintenance and Construction points out in his report: “This work would otherwise be more costly to complete at a later date following completion of the seismic project.”

The decision to overlook Strathcona is even more baffling given that the Ministry of Education had previously identified that “maintenance submissions related to current seismic upgrades would be preferred”.

If you’ve seen Strathcona Elementary lately, it’s a major construction site. It seems obvious that it would be timely and cost-effective to perform additional upgrades concurrent with that work. So why is a cash-strapped Ministry passing on the cash-strapped school board’s request for budget-conscious upgrades that will otherwise need to be done later at greater cost? Is this the best value for BC tax-payers?

Seems a short-sighted short-changing indeed.


Photo: Mike Martin Wong