Myrtle Philip to get $2 million seismic upgrade cash 

Myrtle Philip Community School is getting a cash boost from the provincial government for seismic upgrades that should protect the school against earthquakes.

West Vancouver-Garibaldi MLA Joan McIntyre announced a total of $11.2 million that will go towards seismic upgrades of four schools, with Myrtle Philip among them. The Whistler elementary school will receive $2 million.

“We've been on a concentrated effort of replacing schools, building new schools and adding additions, renovations,” McIntyre told Pique . “We need to make sure that our children are safe and secure.”

The upgrade at Myrtle Philip is expected to begin in January 2009 and finish in the fall of 2009. A news release said that the school will be used during the 2010 Olympic Games.

McIntyre said in an interview with Pique that the $2 million for Myrtle Philip will go towards strengthening roofs, foundations and joint areas, but she could not provide specifics.

She did say, however, that the improvements and the money to make them would be based on a set of criteria judged by the school district.

“It would be judged certainly by a set of criteria by professional bureaucrats in terms of the urgency and whether they’re ready to begin,” she said.

When asked why Myrtle Philip isn’t more equipped to withstand an earthquake already, she said that seismic criteria for school buildings tend to change.

“The standards change as well,” she said. “It would have to have been built to the standard of the day, and over time, I’m not sure whether the school’s wood frame or not, but over time, they need an upgrade.”

A spokesman for the Ministry of Education said there seismic deficiencies at the school between the roof, walls and foundations, and that improvements will be made in order to create a better “load path” for withstanding seismic forces.

He also said that the strength of the roof system will be improved as part of the upgrade and that some weaknesses in the gymnasium roof would be addressed.

The spokesman explained that Myrtle Philip was designed in 1989 in compliance with a building code from 1985, some years before the code was revised in 1991. That revision included more “stringent” seismic design criteria, according to the spokesman, but the code was implemented after construction of the school.

The original Myrtle Philip Community School was built in 1976 at a location that is now part of Village North, near Village Gate Boulevard. It was a centre for community activity before Whistler Village was developed and before Meadow Park Recreation Centre was completed, according to the Myrtle Philip website.

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