Eric Hamber students to get new, safer school

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Secondary school students in the South Cambie neighbourhood can look forward to learning in a new, seismically safer school.

“Vancouver students and their families have been waiting for schools that will be safe in the event of an earthquake,” said Rob Fleming, Minister of Education. “Today’s announcement moves us one step closer to achieving our goal of ensuring all British Columbian students can receive a quality education in a state-of-the-art, safe and healthy school.”

The Ministry of Education is providing $79.3 million to fully replace Eric Hamber Secondary — the largest seismic project in Vancouver’s history.

“As the 2017-18 school year draws to a close, we’re delighted with today’s announcement that the Eric Hamber Secondary school community will soon have a new, seismically safe learning environment,” said Vancouver Board of Education chair Janet Fraser. “Not only will the replacement school be safer in the event of an earthquake, our intent is to provide an even more welcoming environment for our students and staff in a facility with more opportunities for community activities.”

Eric Hamber Secondary serves 1,700 students in grades 8–12. It opened in 1962, and has had several additions and renovations over the years. However, the structure needs further upgrading, and has been deemed high risk in the event of an earthquake. The new school will be built next to the existing one on the northwest corner of the site. Students will remain in the existing school during construction. This will prevent the need for portables and minimize disruption, like bussing Eric Hamber students.

Other project options would have required a phased approach, resulting in a longer construction period, a higher price and classes moving into a substantial number of portables. Using the existing school rather than temporary accommodation during construction saves approximately $16 million in costs over the seismic upgrade.

“One of our priorities at the Vancouver School District is to ensure our schools are safe. Another is that our schools are inspiring learning environments for our students,” said Suzanne Hoffman, Vancouver School District superintendent. “It’s very exciting that we will soon begin to design and build a replacement school that meets both those priorities at Eric Hamber, for decades to come.”

The new school will be built to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) gold standards. LEED gold schools are healthy, high-performance learning environments that include sustainable low-toxic materials, natural light, abundant fresh air, energy conservation, habitat protection and reduced demand on local landfills. The new school will also accommodate a child care facility.

Construction is slated to begin in summer 2020, and the new Eric Hamber Secondary is expected to welcome students in fall 2022.

The Ministry of Education is continuing to work with school districts and local governments throughout B.C. to speed up the funding approval process and reduce wait times for much-needed seismic and capital projects.

Quick Facts:

  • Vancouver school seismic replacement announcements since September 2017 include: Sir Matthew Begbie Elementary ($22.4 million), Bayview Elementary ($24.5 million), and David Lloyd George Elementary ($24.2 million).
  • Since September 2017, the B.C. government has approved more than $335.6 million in capital funding to upgrade or replace seismically high-risk schools, and a total of $567.3 million in capital projects (including land purchases, additions etc.).
  • Budget 2018 invests a record $2 billion in school capital projects over the next three years.
  • Eric Hamber Secondary school is named after Eric Werge Hamber, the 15th lieutenant governor of British Columbia.