BC’s Ministry of Education announced today that New Westminster’s Richard McBride Elementary School will be replaced with construction starting in 2018.
“We have known for a long time that Richard McBride Elementary has been seismically unsafe, and we are glad to announce its replacement,” said Education Minister Rob Fleming in a press release. “As an H1-ranked school, McBride has been a priority for years and although the previous government chose not to act to keep our children safe, we are glad to put the focus on learning in a safe environment.”
The school will be replaced with 26 earthquake-safe portables that will arrive in time for September 2019.
“By using portables we can quickly adapt to changing enrollment numbers, making education in New Westminster cost-effective yet safe for our children,” Fleming said.
McBride Parent Advisory Committee co-chair Janet Arbeau has been raising the issue of the safety of the school for a number of years, and said she gets a lot of questions from parents about the fate of the school.
“Especially some of the new parents. They’ve just enrolled their kids in kindergarten or what have you and they’re very excited, and they recognized McBride is an old school, and then they maybe do a little bit of googling, and the next thing you know, they find out the status of McBride is an H1-rated school, so then they ask the PAC what’s going on.”
She met with New Westminster MLA Judy Darcy to share her concerns and said she was “satisfied” with the discussions.
“My son Chard has been attending McBride since kindergarten and is now in Grade Four. Every year we have been told that McBride is unsafe, that it’s rated H1, and either upgrading it or replacing it has been a priority. I’m glad that we are finally seeing progress. I’m sad that Chard won’t be seeing a safe McBride Elementary, but I’m very glad that other kids will be getting the safe education they deserve.”
Fleming said some of the delays stemmed from the previous Liberal government.
“We are sorry that we could not act quicker than the 2019 school year, but unfortunately due to years of underfunding by the Liberal government, demand for portables is at an all-time high. The portables McBride will be replaced with are currently in use in Surrey, and moving them to New Westminster and other cities around the province will help us meet our promise to do away with all of the portables in Surrey within four years.”
“We didn’t say anything about portables in other cities,” he added.