September 20, 2017 9:00 pm

BC NDP looking to fast-track seismic upgrades in wake of Mexico City earthquake

The province announced seismic upgrades for North Vancouver's Argyle Secondary last summer.

North Vancouver School District 44

B.C.’s Ministry of Education is looking to speed up seismic upgrades to the province’s schools in the wake of a devastating magnitude-7.1 earthquake in Mexico City.

The Mexican quake has killed at least 225 people, including children at a primary school that collapsed in the city’s Coapa district. Numerous other schools also sustained damage.

READ MORE: Argyle Secondary School getting $45.7M seismic upgrade

Here in B.C., Education Minister Rob Fleming said the NDP government is working with school districts on how to fast-track seismic upgrades and see construction underway.

“The good news is that the expertise has grown, the ability to scale up these projects has increased,” he said.

“I think there’s better capacity today and I think what we also have, which I think is the key ingredient, is we have government who actually cares about this and has made it an investment priority.”

WATCH: Government delaying seismic upgrades to schools?

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Fleming said the province is taking a case-by-case approach with B.C. school districts as it looks at ways to speed up the process.

“There’s some districts that don’t have that in-house seismic expertise,” he said. “Our ministry has a great relationship with APEG, the association of professional engineers, that has seismic expertise in B.C.”

Fleming said he doesn’t know if the NDP can return to the original deadline to upgrade schools by 2020, a timeline the BC Liberals extended by 10 years back in 2015.

Of the 346 B.C. schools considered “high-risk,” 171 still need seismic upgrades. Fourteen of those schools are currently under construction, most of them in Metro Vancouver.

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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