Staff evacuate the B.C. legislature Thursday in the Great B.C. ShakeOut

MLAs shake fingers in quake exercise

NDP's John Horgan and Rob Fleming highlight delays in B.C.'s long-running school earthquake safety project

As students and office workers practised earthquake evacuation procedures Thursday, politicians ducked, covered and shook their fingers about B.C.’s long-running earthquake safety project for public schools.

NDP leader John Horgan and education critic Rob Fleming visited Killarney Secondary in Vancouver, one of the high-risk schools the government identified for upgrading in a pre-election announcement in April 2013. They said more than a year later, only three out of 10 projects are underway.

“Clearly, this was just another photo-op announcement from the premier with no follow-through,” Fleming said.

Schools listed for 2013-14 were Killarney and David Thompson Secondary in Vancouver, James Gilmore Elementary in Richmond, Montecito Elementary in Burnaby, Windsor Secondary in North Vancouver, Henderson Elementary in Powell River, George Jay Elementary in Greater Victoria, Cordova Bay Elementary in Saanich, South Wellington Elementary in Nanaimo-Ladysmith and École Phoenix Middle School in Campbell River.

Education Minister Peter Fassbender issued a statement touting the province as a leading jurisdiction in earthquake preparedness, with $2.2 billion spent or committed since 2001 to upgrade 213 high-risk schools.

In August 2014, the ministry said it has been trying for two years to establish a project office with the Vancouver school district to manage the 69 schools in the city identified as having high earthquake risk.

The list for this school year includes Langley Secondary, Delta Secondary, Burnaby North Secondary, Yale Secondary in Abbotsford, Richard McBride Elementary in New Westminster, Minnekhada Middle in Coquitlam, Tillicum Elementary in Victoria, Dunsmuir Middle in Sooke and Parkland Secondary in Saanich.