Parents fear loss of auditorium, facilities in Eric Hamber Secondary seismic upgrade
Plans are in the works for the largest-ever seismic upgrade of a B.C. school, but some parents are already expressing concerns.
The $80-million project was announced back in June, and construction is slated to begin in 2020.
Eric Hamber Secondary’s 1,700 students would remain in the old school while the new facility is built, with construction of the LEED gold facility to be completed by 2022.
WATCH: Seismic upgrade plans leaving B.C. parents frustrated
On Friday, parents were invited to an information session, with many saying they did not like what they saw.
The major issue is what won’t be included in the project.
According to the Hamber Parent Advisory Council (PAC), the new 15,000-square-metre building will be 26 per cent smaller than the existing school.
What drew the most concern from parents was what wouldn’t be in the new school.
“There are some major deficiencies in the proposed design. There’s no auditorium in the new school,” said Stephanie Yada, who has both a son and daughter at Eric Hamber.
“That auditorium is used every day, for not only classes, but performances like musicals, plays, concerts, choirs, and we won’t have anywhere to house that. … [My daughter] can’t imagine not having a theatre to perform in, an auditorium. She’s worried the whole program will be cut.”
She said the proposed gym is also too small, and the new school would lose its track.
“We struggle to get our teens out and being active, and we’re going to have to cut down.”
Florence Lum attended Eric Hamber as a teen, and has two kids in line to attend the school in a few years.
The proposed design has her considering moving them cross-boundary.
“That just breaks my heart that I’m even going there because I would love for my kids to come to Hamber, but I am super concerned about the lack of foresight … it’s going to affect kids for generations to come.”
Brenda Chinn, another alumnus and former school president, said any new structure should improve on the facilities that are already there, not cut back.
WATCH: More Vancouver schools getting seismic upgrades
“We want kids to be well-rounded individuals whether its sports, music, arts, theatre and they’re not going to be providing for that any longer,” she said.
School board chair Janet Fraser said the primary concerns she heard from parents surrounded gym, auditorium and fashion design spaces.
But she said the board must work within the parameters of the Ministry of Education.
“We have to work to the ministry Area Standards guidelines, within those guidelines we have to try and design the school in the best possible way for our students,” she said.
Those guidelines determine the maximum size for facilities, and the PAC and alumni want to see them reviewed and replaced.
“We’re asking that they halt for now, revisit, replace the document or adjust it accordingly, and Hamber students could stay here and going forward have the correct build,” said Andrea Nicholson, alumni coordinator.
“I’m not sure why we would spend up to the amount they’re spending now on a school that will need to be increased in size before it’s finished.”
In a statement, the Ministry of Education said that the VSB is responsible for building the school, and have flexibility when it comes to the design and programs.
It added that districts do not have to build school spaces to the exact specification of area standards, and that the main purpose of space allocations are to determine the capital budget, not dictate specific allocations of space within the school.
© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.