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Media Release - Seismic Renewal at General Gordon

Vancouver School Board staff have identified a preferred option for the seismic mitigation project at General Gordon Elementary School. The preferred option (Concept 4) is a completely new replacement school on the southern portion of the site. The general public will have an opportunity to express their views on the preferred option at the Open House on Tuesday June 21st at the General Gordon gym from 3:00 to 7:00pm.

The selection of the preferred option follows a comprehensive six month planning process, which involved examination of the building structure, educational program objectives, heritage character, design options for renewal, life cycle assessment, traffic management, implementation phasing and concept costing.

Seventeen concept options for renewal of the school were generated and considered.  Options for renewal have been reviewed with parents, school teachers and staff, community organizations, City of Vancouver staff, and Heritage Vancouver. Ministry of Education officials have also been kept informed of the progress of the three NLC schools (General Gordon, Queen Mary and Strathcona). School Board staff recognize there are diverse views on the renewal options, including different opinions on issues such as seismic safety, cost effectiveness and heritage retention.

School Board staff understand this is a difficult decision. The preferred concept recommendation has been made based on the following major factors:

  • the school site is extremely small, resulting in difficulty in accommodating portables with suitable outdoor play area during a phased construction;
  • the poor quality of the existing structure, together with a substandard lower floor level, results in design challenges and a high cost to retain and renovate the existing building; and
  • the cost of retaining the existing building has proved to be significantly greater than a replacement school. This cost has been weighed against the quality of the existing structure and its heritage character. The buildings dating from 1912 and 1922 have been substantially altered over time and have lost many of their heritage features.

The City of Vancouver staff recognize the challenges with renewing the school, taking into account the various complexities identified. A copy of the General Gordon Renewal Plan can be found at this link: Renewal Plan.

Following input from the open house, the final recommendation will be reviewed prior to submission to the Board of Education.

For more information, contact Jim Meschino, Director of Facilities at 604-713-5019 or jmeschino@vsb.bc.ca

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