“When students, teachers and staff walk through the front doors of their school, they deserve to feel safe and secure,” said Premier John Horgan. “After years of underfunding and delay, we’re moving forward with upgrades at Tait and Ferris elementary schools.”
An assessment of Robert J. Tait (Tait) and W.D. Ferris (Ferris) found that the schools are at high risk in the event of an earthquake and in urgent need of seismic upgrades. The Province has funded a Richmond Capital Project Team, dedicated to addressing the backlog of seismic projects in Richmond and fast-tracking upgrades like the ones at Tait and Ferris.
“Richmond has had only three schools seismically upgraded in the past decade, and that’s just not good enough,” said Rob Fleming, Minister of Education. “Parents shouldn’t have to worry about their children’s safety at school. Families deserve better, which is why we are speeding up the pace of seismic upgrades in Richmond and throughout B.C.”
“We are pleased to be receiving funding from the Ministry of Education to seismically upgrade both Robert J. Tait Elementary and W.D. Ferris Elementary,” said Eric Yung, Richmond Board of Education chair. “As we move forward, the Richmond Board of Education remains committed to working with the ministry to improve the safety of all of our facilities within our school community.”
Work on Tait Elementary is expected to begin in spring 2019, while construction on Ferris Elementary will start in summer 2019. Both projects are scheduled to be complete in fall 2020. Tait’s upgrades will cost $7.59 million, and the seismic upgrade cost of Ferris is $8.49 million.
“Today’s announcement brings the Richmond School District one step closer to the realization of our vision as the best place to learn and lead,” said Sherry Elwood, Richmond School District superintendent. “As a result of this funding, staff and students at Robert J. Tait Elementary and W.D. Ferris Elementary will have safe and inspiring learning environments that support their educational journey.”
Government is committed to clearing the backlog of seismic projects and is encouraging collaboration between the Ministry of Education, school districts and local governments to meet ambitious timelines and reduce the time it takes to plan and upgrade a school.
Since September 2017, the Province has announced more than $350 million in funding to upgrade or replace high-risk schools, including a seismic upgrade for Richmond’s Hugh Boyd Secondary.
Tait Elementary is a one-storey school located on the east side of the Richmond School District. Opened in 1955 as a two-room school, it has 364 seats for kindergarten to Grade 7. Ferris Elementary is also a one-storey K-7 school. It opened in 1960, and now has room for 616 students.
Budget 2018 provides $541 million over the next three years for seismic upgrades and replacements at schools throughout B.C.
To accelerate projects in other school districts with large and complex capital programs, government continues to support project offices in Surrey and Vancouver, as well as in Richmond.