Class Notes: Sir Matthew Begbie hosts open house

Seismic upgrading plans on the agenda

The options under consideration for the seismic renewal of Sir Matthew Begbie elementary will be outlined at an open house Jan. 13. Vancouver School Board and city staff as well as Hughes Condon Marler Architects will attend to provide an overview and receive feedback.

The school board is considering three options for improved seismic safety: a retrofit of the school, retaining the 1929 building and replacing the 1947 addition or a total replacement.

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School board staff will present their preferred option at the open house.

Jim Meschino, director of the facilities for the school board, didn’t want the VSB’s preferred option or the estimated cost of each before the open house. The estimated cost range for the three options is $14 million to $20 million.

The retrofit or a partial replacement would see the students housed in portables on school grounds. A replacement school would be built on another portion of the property at Lillooet between Kitchener and Grant streets so students could remain in the old school until the new one was built.

The 1929 portion of the school isn’t listed on the city’s heritage registry, but parent advisory council chair Peggy Hoffman notes many parents in the area attended Begbie.

“So there is a lot of community attachment to Begbie,” Hoffman said.

She noted the school isn’t wheelchair accessible and the bathrooms are in the basement. She said parents are excited about potential open areas where there could be day-to-day intermingling of classes.

“The feel of the PAC is essentially how can we get this done. We all want our kids to be safe but we don’t want to ruin three years of their schooling,” Hoffman said.

Feedback from the open house will be reported to the VSB’s planning and facilities committee, which will decide whether staff’s preferred option should be forwarded to the board for approval or whether more work is needed.

Once the board approves a concept, a report is submitted to the Ministry of Education for funding approval. If the ministry approves the money, the design work is completed and development permits are requested.

The earliest a seismically safer school would be in place is in three years.

The open house runs from 3 to 7 p.m. in the multipurpose room at 1430 Lillooet St.

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