Seismic Mitigation Program

The primary objective of the Seismic Mitigation Program is to achieve a life-safety standard for schools by minimizing the probability of local structural collapse as a result of a seismic event.

Since 2001 government has spent or committed $2.2 billion to seismically upgrade or replace 213 high-risk schools. It is anticipated it will cost a further $600 million to address the remaining 126 high-risk schools in the province.

A list of all 339 schools currently identified
under the Seismic Mitigation Program can be
viewed through the adjacent link
''Seismic Mitigation Program Progress Report''.

Seismic Mitigation Program Progress Report
(January 2015) (PDF)

The list separates the schools under the following categories:
  • complete,
  • under construction,
  • proceeding to construction,
  • in planning (supported), and
  • not yet supported to proceed.

Seismic Mitigation Program – Phase 2

(Revised August 2014)

News Releases - Phase 2

New office to accelerate school seismic projects (August 2014)

VANCOUVER - A proposed new project office in the Vancouver school district will help speed up the delivery of school seismic projects aimed at keeping students and staff safe in the event of an earthquake.

Through a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), the Ministry of Education proposes to work with the Vancouver board of education (VBE) to create a co-governed project office staffed by professional personnel dedicated to overseeing seismic projects in the Vancouver school district (SD 39). The office will provide SD 39 access to additional, specialized resources to accelerate progress on seismic upgrades. As soon as the MOU is signed by the chair of the VBE and the Minister of Education, a steering committee will be formed to hire a director who will then be responsible for establishing the office. 

A co-governance model will support closer working relationships to help accelerate decision making and project delivery. The new office will help ensure Seismic Mitigation Program (SMP) funding is clearly focused on seismic upgrades and help the VBE make better use of the excess capacity in their facilities, as the district currently has up to 9,000 empty school seats. 

Currently, there are 69 schools in SD 39 that have been assessed by the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists BC as having high seismic risk. Given the complexity and significant number of projects in SD 39, combined with the need to maximize the number of safety upgrades within the available program funding, there is a unique need and opportunity in SD 39 to address these projects in a more timely and cost-effective manner through a specialized seismic office.

The Province first communicated to the VBE its request for a specialized office in the spring of 2012.  In early 2014, the Ministry of Education reengaged the VBE and held detailed discussions on the scope and purpose of the specialized seismic office.

Through the Seismic Mitigation Program, the Province has committed more than $1 billion over the next 10 years to support school seismic projects throughout B.C. Of the 69 high risk schools in Vancouver, there are currently five in design or under construction and a further 24 projects the Province has committed to fund through the Seismic Mitigation Program. While SMP funding remains available and the provincial government remains committed to the 24 supported projects, the Province is not in a position to proceed with final approvals and funding until the MOU is in place.


Peter Fassbender, Minister of Education -

“The safety of students and staff is paramount. There is a critical mass of seismic projects in Vancouver and the specific circumstances there call for a more focused and specialized approach.” 

“The Government of B.C. and the Vancouver board of education have shared responsibilities for completing capital projects so I’m inviting them to join us in building a stronger, more cooperative process.”

“The B.C. government is accountable to taxpayers and we need to deliver as many seismic upgrades as possible, as soon as possible, within the funding available through our award-wining Seismic Mitigation Program.” 

“The MOU that we’ve developed reflects the principles that I’ve discussed with the chair of the Vancouver board of education. I hope that we can move quickly to establish the new project office and move forward on these very important seismic upgrades.”
Vancouver Project Office - Memorandum of Understanding
(August 2014) (PDF)


Premier announces $584 million to keep high-risk schools on solid ground
(April 2013)

VANCOUVER - Premier Christy Clark announced more than $584 million to seismically upgrade 45 high-risk schools today, marking a significant milestone in government's commitment to student safety.

"Absolutely nothing is more important than keeping our kids safe. Today we're two-thirds of the way to meeting our commitment to seismically upgrading all high-risk schools in B.C.," said Premier Clark. "This investment means parents sending their kids to 45 more high-risk schools know they will be able to withstand a major earthquake."

The School Seismic Mitigation Program is an ongoing program to address all high-risk school buildings. With these 45 new projects, a total of 213 schools have either been completed, are under construction, are proceeding to construction, or have been supported through the program. That leaves 102 high-priority schools to be addressed.

"It's a significant challenge to upgrade each and every high-risk school throughout British Columbia, but the progress we've made so far is fantastic," said Education Minister Don McRae. "Leading experts in this area continue to seek information on our work, our research on seismic safety, and we take great pride in knowing our innovations are being used to keep kids safe both here and across North America."

First launched in 2004, the School Seismic Mitigation Program is backed by leading B.C. engineers and geoscientists who designed new guidelines for seismic safety in schools based on the latest research from major earthquakes around the globe. In 2010, these experts used these guidelines and new assessment tools to conduct a comprehensive reassessment leading to a more accurate picture of seismic safety risks in B.C. schools.

Quick Facts:

  • The 45 projects announced today will create an estimated 3,700 direct construction jobs across the province over the life of the projects.
  • Including today's announcement, since 2001 government has spent or committed $2.2 billion to seismically upgrade or replace 213 high-risk schools. It is anticipated it will cost a further $600 million to address the remaining 102 high-risk schools in the province.
  • There are 37 school districts located in high seismic zones throughout the province.
  • The $584 million will be distributed over a three-year spending envelope; individual projects within this envelope will receive final approval to proceed to design and construction after the school district confirms the scope, schedule, budget and risks for the project.
  • The estimated funding over the three years is:
    • 2013-14 - 10 new seismic projects at $111.8 million
    • 2014-15 - 14 new seismic projects at $177 million
    • 2015-16 - 21 new seismic projects at $295.4 million
  • The seismic retrofit guidelines developed by B.C.-based experts have been reviewed by international experts in California and at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), earning the Canadian Society of Engineers Excellence in Innovation in Civil Engineering Award in 2010. The guidelines have helped shape FEMA's own regional guidelines and policies.
  • Including the School Seismic Mitigation Program, since 2001 government has committed more than $4 billion to school capital and maintenance projects throughout B.C.
  • During this time, the government has spent more than $2.4 billion to complete 96 new and replacement schools, 131 seismic projects, 151 additions, 27 renovations and 25 site acquisitions across B.C.
  • All new and replacement schools have been constructed to meet the latest seismic standards.

List of 45 schools receiving upgrades

James Gilmore Elementary SD 38 - Richmond
Killarney Secondary SD 39 - Vancouver
David Thompson Secondary SD 39 - Vancouver
Montecito Elementary SD 41 - Burnaby
Windsor Secondary SD 44 - North Vancouver
Henderson Elementary SD 47 - Powell River
George Jay Elementary SD 61 - Greater Victoria
Cordova Bay Elementary SD 63 - Saanich
South Wellington Elementary SD 68 - Nanaimo-Ladysmith
École Phoenix Middle SD 72 - Campbell River

Yale Secondary SD 34 - Abbotsford
Langley Secondary SD 35 - Langley
Delta Secondary SD 37 - Delta
Maple Grove Elementary SD 39 - Vancouver
Lord Tennyson Elementary SD 39 - Vancouver
Dr. Annie B. Jamieson Elementary SD 39 - Vancouver
Richard McBride Elementary SD 40 - New Westminster
Burnaby North Secondary SD 41 - Burnaby
Minnekhada Middle SD 43 - Coquitlam
Tillicum Elementary SD 61 - Greater Victoria
Shoreline Community Middle SD 61 - Greater Victoria
Dunsmuir Middle SD 62 - Sooke
Parkland Secondary SD 63 - Saanich
École Cote Du Soleil (Powell River) SD 93 - Conseil Scolaire Francophone

Abbotsford Traditional Secondary SD 34 - Abbotsford
Eric Hamber Secondary SD 39 - Vancouver
Point Grey Secondary SD 39 - Vancouver
Renfrew Community Elementary SD 39 - Vancouver
Sir Alexander MacKenzie Elementary SD 39 - Vancouver
Waverley Elementary SD 39 - Vancouver
Edith Cavell Elementary SD 39 - Vancouver
Prince of Wales Secondary SD 39 - Vancouver
Templeton Secondary SD 39 - Vancouver
General Wolfe Elementary SD 39 - Vancouver
David Lloyd George Elementary SD 39 - Vancouver
Bayview Community Elementary SD 39 - Vancouver
F.W. Howay Elementary SD 40 - New Westminster
Stride Avenue Elementary SD 41 - Burnaby
Montgomery Middle SD 43 - Coquitlam
Irvine Elementary SD 43 - Coquitlam
Handsworth Secondary SD 44 - North Vancouver
Cloverdale Elementary SD 61 - Greater Victoria
Cedar Hill Junior Secondary SD 61 - Greater Victoria
Ruth King Elementary SD 62 - Sooke
Lochside Elementary SD 63 - Saanich


BC engineers shake out world-class research on school safety (May 2012)

Engineers and geoscientists have completed a comprehensive re-assessment of seismic safety at B.C. schools based on the latest scientific research, improved technology and study of recent major earthquakes around the world.

The Ministry of Education engaged the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of B.C. (APEGBC) and the University of British Columbia’s department of civil engineering to conduct a comprehensive update of how B.C. schools are expected to perform in a major earthquake and to upgrade the technical guidelines for seismic retrofits.

The APEGBC-UBC team has developed:

  • New assessment tools and procedures for engineers to determine how different sections of school buildings in different parts of B.C.’s seismic zones will withstand different types of earthquakes.
  • Cutting-edge technical guidelines for engineers to follow when planning school retrofits and access to ongoing support from APEGBC’s technical review committee.
  • A data analyzer that gives engineers access to more than eight million sets of peer-reviewed seismic retrofit analysis to assist in the assessment and retrofit design of school structures.

Based on the latest research and more detailed local geotechnical information, the engineers re-evaluated more than 500 schools previously identified for potential funding under the School Seismic Mitigation Program. The new assessment has identified 152 schools with at least one “high risk” building section that need to be addressed with structural upgrades under the School Seismic Mitigation Program. The cost to address these high-priority schools is estimated at $1.3 billion.

The remaining schools have building sections classified as “low” or “medium” risk, which means seismic safety can be achieved through non-structural mitigation or through a school district’s regular capital renewal process. The Ministry of Education is exploring options to provide school districts with additional funding for non-structural safety improvements in the medium- and low-ranked schools starting in 2013-14.


$122 million for next round of seismic upgrades (May 2012)

As part of its ongoing Seismic Mitigation Program, the Province has committed more than $122 million to address structural upgrades at 14 high-priority schools.

The 14 projects are spread throughout 12 B.C. school districts. Schools were selected from most-recent district capital plans and represent top-ranked projects based on an updated assessment of seismic safety risk.

School projects approved for funding:

  • Aberdeen Elementary, Abbotsford (SD 34)
  • South Delta Secondary, Delta (SD 37)
  • Sir Charles Kingsford-Smith Elementary, Vancouver (SD 39)
  • Dr. George M. Weir Elementary, Vancouver (SD 39)
  • Sir Wilfred Grenfell Community School, Vancouver (SD 39)
  • Alpha Secondary, Burnaby (SD 41)
  • Banting Middle school, Coquitlam (SD 43)
  • Argyle Secondary, North Vancouver (SD 44)
  • Quadra Elementary, Victoria (SD 61)
  • Sangster Elementary, Sooke (SD 62)
  • Deep Cove Elementary, Saanich (SD 63)
  • Georges P. Vanier Secondary, Comox Valley (SD 71)
  • C.E. Barry Intermediate, Fraser-Cascade (SD 78)
  • École des Pionniers, Conseil scolaire francophone (SD 93)

School districts will work with the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientist of B.C. (APEGBC) and the Ministry of Education’s Seismic Mitigation Program to confirm scope, schedule and budgets for these projects prior to Ministry of Education approval of individual project agreements.

Since 2005 a technical team led by APEGBC, working with its partners at the University of British Columbia, has continued to refine the risk assessment and mitigation strategies through experience in actual seismic upgrade projects, extensive laboratory testing at UBC’s world-class Earthquake Engineering Research Facility and peer review by leading international structural experts. This work resulted in new technical guidelines and assessment methodology that refined the list of high priority schools to be addressed under the School Seismic Mitigation Program.

Capital Plan instructions for new project approvals, expected to follow this month, will direct school districts to review and prioritize requirements for future seismic projects based on the latest assessment results.


Program Details - Phase 2

Seismic Structural Risk Rating By Block (January 2015) (PDF, 1.27 MB)

The "Seismic Structural Risk Rating" report shows updated risk ratings by block for all schools within the Province‘s 37 high risk seismic zones that were reviewed by the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists, British Columbia (APEGBC) over 2010 and 2011. Blocks are essentially areas within a school that are of different construction types, therefore having different structural characteristics. For example, gymnasiums are typically a different type of structure than the classroom blocks. The list shows the risk rating for schools, as well as the status.

Schools that have a high risk rating (High 1, High 2 or High 3) will be structurally upgraded as part of the Seismic Mitigation Program. Projects to seismically mitigate schools that have high structural risk will also correct any non-structural deficiencies as part of the structural upgrade work.

The listings are sorted in numerical order for the school districts, starting with School District 33 (Chilliwack) and ending with SD 93 (Conseil Scolaire Francophone).

The report is based on the best information currently available. Structural seismic risk ratings for some schools have changed over time as more detailed information became available; including feedback provided from school districts.

Finally, the schools represented on the report are those that were constructed prior to 1992. Schools constructed since 1992 have been built to modern structural codes and do not require structural upgrade. As a result, these newer schools are not listed.

Seismic Mitigation Implementation

Seismic Mitigation Program – Phase 1 (2005)

As part of the Province’s School Seismic Mitigation Program, boards of education assessed schools in 2004 to confirm the seismic risk and scope of required projects in their districts. Project engineers used retrofit design concepts in the risk assessments that were developed by the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of BC (APEGBC).


First Schools to be Upgraded
(PDF) (March 2005)

Ministry of Education's response to the Office of the Auditor General report "Planning For School Seismic Safety"

2004 Seismic Assessments


    Regional Director &
    Director Responsible for the Seismic Mitigation Program
    Capital Management Branch
    Ministry of Education
    (250) 508-6492