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.

Since launching the Seismic Mitigation Program (SMP), the Ministry of Education has spent over $1.6B to complete 173 high-risk seismic projects throughout the province, with an additional 14 projects currently under construction, and 18 projects proceeding to construction.

The Ministry of Education currently has another $560M allocated for high-risk seismic projects in our 3-year capital plan.

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). 

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 Capital 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), as identified in the Seismic Mitigation Program Progress Report (PDF) shown above.

Emergency Management Planning for Schools, Districts and Authorities 

Emergencies are unpredictable. We usually have little warning that an event or series of events may cause a massive disruption in our lives and our communities. As one of the major areas in which people gather, schools are places where emergency preparedness is critically important to the well-being of students and employees and to the confidence that parents feel in entrusting their children to the care of educators in BC schools.