Seismic Mitigation Program

The safety of B.C. students is vital. A comprehensive school seismic upgrading program is underway to make schools safer in the event of an earthquake by minimizing the probability of structural collapse.

Over the past decade, the government has spent or committed $2.2 billion to seismically upgrade or replace 214 high-risk schools.  The remainder, 125 high-risk schools in the province, are still to be addressed.

See the progress across all 339 schools that require upgrading:

Program Information

Phase one began with district assessments of schools – to determine seismic risk and scope of upgrading work required. Project engineers used retrofit design concepts in the risk assessments that were developed by the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of BC (APEGBC). Also, the Office of the Auditor General published a report of recommendations for moving forward:

Phase two has continued with the upgrade of several schools as well as various educational components about life-safety during an earthquake. Here are a few noteworthy items:

Risk Ratings

Engineers calculate seismic risk ratings based on the risk of damage from earthquake to a building. This calculation is the foundation for making decisions about how to mitigate risk and making specific locations safer.

Here’s an overview of the risk ratings used for B.C. schools:

Rating Definition
High 1 (H1) Most vulnerable structure; at highest risk of widespread damage or structural failure; not reparable after event. Structural and non-structural seismic upgrades required.
High 2 (H2) Vulnerable structure; at high risk of widespread damage or structural failure; likely not reparable after event. Structural and non-structural seismic upgrades required.
High 3 (H3) Isolated failure to building elements such as walls are expected; building likely not reparable after event. Structural and non-structural seismic upgrades required.
Medium (M) Isolated damage to building elements is expected; non-structural elements (such as bookshelves, lighting) are at risk of failure. Non-structural upgrades required. Building to be upgraded or replaced withing the Caputal Plan when it has reached the end of its useful life.
Low (L) Least vulnerable structure. Would experience isolated damage and would probably be reparable after an event. Non-structural upgrades may be required.

The government is structurally upgrading schools that have a high risk rating (High 1, High 2 or High 3). The structural upgrade work will also correct any non-structural deficiencies of these high-risk locations.

Seismic structural risk rating by block: Blocks represent areas within a school that are of different construction types and have different structural characteristics. For example, gymnasiums are usually a different type of structure than classroom blocks. The following report shows updated risk ratings by block for all schools within the province’s 37 high-risk seismic zones – upgrade status for each school is also included.

A few notes about the report:

  • Ratings have been reviewed by the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists, British Columbia (APEGBC)
  • Structural seismic risk ratings for some schools have changed over time as more detailed information becomes available – including feedback provided from school districts
  • Schools constructed since 1992 are not included in the report – they’re built to modern structural codes and do not require structural upgrade

 

 

Vancouver Project Office

Useful Contacts

John Cavelti 
Regional Director

Capital Management Branch
Ministry of Education

Telephone: (250) 415-9562