Connor Corser

Colwood’s Sangster school celebrates seismic upgrade

A four-classroom annex constructed of cinderblock and built in the 1960s has received seismic reinforcement in a $2.1 million project.

Hands shot up when Education Minister Peter Fassbender posed the question: what do you do if an earthquake hits? Get under a table, said the Grade 2 and 3 kids at Sangster elementary, and protect your head.

Earthquake drills are routine at schools in Greater Victoria, and when the big one hits, students at Sangster now have an added level of protection. What was once a four-classroom annex constructed of cinderblock and built in the 1960s has received a $2.1 million seismic upgrade.

“A lot of people have worked really hard at making the school safe for each and every one of you, and now the building is safer to protect each and every one of you,” Fassbender told a class during a media event on Thursday.

Classes of Sangster students have spent the past year camped in the library and computer room, and a Grade 6 class walked to a portable at nearby Dunsmuir middle school, as the bones of the annex were reenforced with steel and modern building materials. Principal Maureen Lauren said students and teachers took the inconvenience in stride.

“The teachers and kids were phenomenal. Nobody complained, not even the children who had to walk back and forth (to Dunsmuir),” she said. “Everyone has been so gracious and positive through construction. Staff and students went without essentials in the school, but we’re back now.”

Lauren herself has inadvertently made a career out of shepherding students through construction and upgrades. Before Sangster, she worked through construction at Happy Valley elementary. “I said, ‘If you want a building reconstructed, put me there.’ I was joking,” she said. “This is my fourth.”

The majority of the one-level Sangster school didn’t need seismic reenforcement due to its wood frame. “This is the newest part of the school,” said SD 62 superintendent Jim Cambridge, standing in the annex. “The irony is the school built with 1950s construction with wood is not at (seismic) risk. The newer part needed upgrading. The old part is just fine.

The building is safer, but its also a lot cleaner, more hygienic,” he said. “They replaced the 40 year old floor and gave it a fresh coat of paint. You can see out the windows now.”

Fassbender spent part of the morning playing basketball with a class of kids and toured the modern modular classroom installed at Sangster to make space for all-day kindergarten. Despite the recent high-profile court ruling regarding teachers’ collective bargaining rights and revelations that the province provoked teachers into striking in 2012, Fassbender said visits to schools are always cordial.

“I respect every teacher at every school,” he said. “It’s never uncomfortable. I love meeting teachers and students. Everyone is respectful and never disrespectful.”

Sangster’s annex building became SD62’s No. 1 priority to upgrade once the province announced it would replace aging Belmont secondary. The district is gearing up for a major seismic retrofit of Dunsmuir middle school, scheduled for 2014-15, in what could be an $8 million project. Ruth King and Willway elementary schools are approved for seismic upgrades, but funding hasn’t been allocated.

Cambridge said design work is underway for the Dunsmuir project, which includes planning how to manage a construction zone while classes underway. Spencer middle school went through a $5 million upgrade in 2009 with classes in session.

editor@goldstreamgazette.com

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Rare comet dazzles night sky over Saanich Peninsula

Comet NEOWISE is passing Earth for the first time in 7,000 years

Saanich warns of ongoing night work at the Shelbourne, McKenzie intersection

Construction expected to take three weeks to complete

Sooke Writers Collective releases new anthology

Lucky Number Seven features work from local writers

Baby raccoon rescued from 10-foot deep Saanich drainage pipe

‘Its cries were loud, pitiful and heartbreaking,’ Saanich animal control officer says

Police respond to successful Facebook scam on Oak Bay resident

Petty thievery in King George Terrace where plants, gargoyle are missing

B.C. records 62 new COVID-19 cases, two deaths since Friday

Province has just over 200 active cases

Port Alberni will have a salmon derby on Labour Day after all

Alberni Valley Tyee Club reveals ‘socially distanced’ derby only for Labour Day 2020

‘Trauma equals addiction’ – why some seek solace in illicit substances

Part 2: Many pushed into addiction by ‘toxic stress,’ says White Rock psychologist

Hotel rooms for B.C. homeless too hasty, NDP government told

Businesses forced out, but crime goes down, minister says

Suspicious fire quenched before reaching gunpowder in Nanaimo’s historic Bastion

Probe underway in basement blaze that erupted near where powder stored to fire signature cannons

Duncan model makes quarter finals in ‘Maxim’ magazine contest

Brandee Peart among top one per cent left in competition

Wage subsidy will be extended until December amid post-COVID reopening: Trudeau

Trudeau said the extension will ‘give greater certainty and support to businesses’

B.C. government prepares for COVID-19 economic recovery efforts

New measures after July consultation, Carole James says

Fisherman snags barracuda off Vancouver Island in rare encounter

Ferocious fish, not native to Canada, was netted and released in Alberni Inlet

Most Read