Shaking it up at Lord Nelson
The recent earthquakes off B.C.’s coast refreshed Vancouverite’s worries about the “big one” hitting home here.
So parents and members of the community might want to attend the open house about the seismic renewal of Lord Nelson elementary, Nov. 19.
Staff from the Vancouver School Board, the city and the project architect will provide an overview of the undertaking, present the options being considered for the school on Kitchener Street near Nanaimo Street and receive written and oral feedback from participants.
The Ministry of Education requires districts to consider a minimum of three seismic mitigation options.
David Nelson, district principal of field services, said the team and council considered retaining the gym to see if that would make the project any cheaper.
“Not only does it cost more, but you’re also having an undersized gym that doesn’t really meet your needs,” he said.
Staff, the consultant team and advisory council members that include parents, teachers, members of the community and representatives of onsite childcare, have considered:
- full retention and upgrade of the school, which is estimated to cost $22.5 million;
- an upgrade of the school and retention of the gym, which is rated as less of an earthquake risk than the rest of the school, for a cost of $14.5 million;
- an upgrade and retention of some of the façade, which isn’t heritage rated, at a cost of $18 million, and
- a new school for $14.1 million.
The open house will include presentations on all of the options and the factors used to come up with the preferred option, which the school board wants to announce at the meeting. These factors include the cost of upgrades versus replacement, providing a fully accessible school and one that melds an efficient use of space with current teaching principles.
Preferred concepts will be refined following the open house. A report will go to the board’s planning and facilities committee and Nelson expects trustees to decide on an option that’s recommended by staff in December or January. The board hopes to submit a report to the ministry in January.
Nelson said it’s previously taken the ministry three months to a year to approve a seismic project. Once it’s a go, the project will enter a design phase. The earliest construction would start would be fall 2014.
Three hundred and eight-seven children attend Lord Nelson in kindergarten to Grade 7.
The open house runs from 3 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. in the gymnasium at 2235 Kitchener St.
The board endorsed principles for capital planning last month that 30 high-risk seismic projects should be completed by 2020, as originally proposed by the province. A total of 42 Vancouver schools await seismic upgrades.