Everyone's apparently fighting for their piece of the pie. It's time that fight was addressed with a little more urgency by our provincial government.
On the front page of today's Daily News, you'll see a story indicating seismic assessments of facilities in the Nanaimo-Ladysmith school district show a number of high-risk buildings continue to be used by staff and students.
Research released by the University of Victoria in 2012 attributed a 30 per cent probability to a "structurally damaging" earthquake during the next 100 years.
The same research said there would be a 25 per cent chance that Island communities would experience "widely felt shaking" over the next 10 years.
Now, we can't live our lives in fear of the big one striking at any time.
Stressing constantly over an earthquake is about as productive as worrying about Wile E. Coyote dropping an anvil on your head tomorrow.
But this isn't the Colliery dams issue we're dealing with here - where "experts" on two sides continue to battle over what to do with the iconic Nanaimo structures.
In this case, we're talking about buildings, some very old, that house our most important resource - our children - for most of their non-summer days.
The provincial government since 2001 has been distributing funding to school districts across the province to make the necessary upgrades, with $2.2 billion now spent or committed.
It is estimated that another $600 million will be needed to deal with the province's 104 schools still classified as highrisk. That's some huge money to be sure, and may explain why the process of actually extracting the cash out of the government is taking so long.
Through the process, the provincial government, as the funder of seismic upgrades, has been distributing money based on levels of risk.
Nanaimo district board chairman Jamie Brennan described the speed by which seismic mitigation has been rolled out by the province as "glacial."
"The government's pretty loathe to go to the taxpayer for more money," he said. "There's politics in it, always."
This is not up to school districts, local governments or the federal government.
This is solidly in the province's jurisdiction, though they could seek federal aid. Bottom line is it's not being done fast enough and kids and staff remain at risk.
The cost of not doing it is greater than the millions needed for this fix.
In the event of a quake, there are two things to consider. First and foremost, death and injury.
And then there's the cost of rebuilding when the cost of upgrading, even if it seems large now, is little compared to the costs incurred when buildings are destroyed in a quake.
A "high" rating (there are several in Nanaimo) means the facilities - still in use - are at risk of "isolated failure of building elements, such as walls," and would not likely be reparable after a failure.
Basically, we have a big shaker and walls could come tumbling down on our children.
Unlikely? Most certainly. A risk worth taking? No.
Most likely, the required upgrades will all be done in time before any major damage is done.
But when some schools have been waiting years and years and officials are tossing around words like "glacial" it can't be seen as a good thing.
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