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Many public Richmond buildings in need of seismic upgrades

(iStock Photo)

RICHMOND (NEWS 1130) – Richmond hospital isn’t the only public building in desperate need of seismic upgrades, the great majority of high-risk schools have not received funding for retrofitting.

Just three of 28 high risk schools have been upgraded with funding approved for a fourth. That leaves 24 schools at risk of major earthquake damage waiting for funding.

Over three times the number of projects are completed in Abbotsford and Chilliwack, even though those cities are much farther away from the expected epicentre of the big one than Richmond.

The BC government had once promised to have ALL upgrades province-wide done by 2020, but that deadline has been pushed back by a decade.

NDP Education Critic Rob Fleming says people in Richmond deserve an explanation. “There’s never been a cheaper time to borrow capital and make those fixes. Construction labour is available and the engineering profession in BC has developed tremendous expertise at being able to perform seismic upgrade projects more cheaply and more quickly.”

Two reports show the north tower at Richmond hospital will collapse in a moderate earthquake, but the province has no plan to start upgrades there either. The health authority says it’s replacement a top priority.

Richmond, Ladner and parts of Delta are at high risk of liquefaction during a major earthquake, says SFU Earth Sciences Professor John Clague. “What happens is that the sediments transform from a solid state into a liquefied slurry as the ground shakes due to a spike in porewater pressures in the sediments. Liquefaction normally happens at shallow depths, generally from a few metres to perhaps 15 m below the ground surface. It causes the ground to irregularly sag and crack as liquefied sand and silt is erupted out onto the ground surface.”

He says there are steps you can take to stop the ground from liquefying. The most common is to preload the ground with sand.