Legislature waits for school seismic upgrades

The B.C. legislature doesn't meet building code standards for fire and seismic protection

VICTORIA – Ministers headed into their first cabinet meeting with Premier Christy Clark Wednesday, well aware that the stately limestone legislature needs major repairs and is a deathtrap in a major earthquake.

This week the B.C. government finally released a 2006 study on the state of the legislative buildings. It confirms that there is no comprehensive plan to maintain and strengthen the legislature and other buildings on the grounds, built in the late 19th century.

The report notes that despite upgrades in the 1970s and 1980s, the legislature does not meet B.C. building codes related to earthquake and fire risk. It says the copper roof domes are “in poor condition,” and parts of the building such as parapet caps, roofing and glazing are “failing.”

The report estimated the cost of repairs at more than $140 million, with millions more to upgrade adjacent buildings known as the armouries, premier’s garage and bunker.

Shirley Bond, named this week at public safety minister, said the legislature precinct is the responsibility of Speaker Bill Barisoff. Barisoff has said the public expects the B.C. government to complete its seismic upgrades of schools around the province before major work is done at the legislature.

The education ministry is in the midst of a 15-year, $1.5 billion program to upgrade school structures.

Its latest progress report shows that 90 projects are complete, mainly in the Lower Mainland and on Vancouver Island. Another 21 are under construction, with 10 more projects preparing to start.

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