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The school district estimates that earthquake-proofing upgrades for 22 schools will cost $775 million.

Planned costs for earthquake-resistant retrofitting of Richmond schools have increased by nearly 50 percent since 2023.

The Richmond School District’s Earthquake Reduction Program estimates that the earthquake-proofing of 22 schools will cost a total of $775 million during the 2025-2026 school year.

This represents an increase of $254 million over the 2023-2024 school year, when $521 million was projected.

For the 2024/2025 school year, costs rose to $640 million.

Of the schools, James Gilmore Elementary and Steveston-London Secondary have the highest modernization costs.

The cost of James Gilmore rose from an estimated $37.9 million to $62.7 million. The cost of Steveston-London rose from $49.5 million to around $72.5 million.

This represents a difference of $24.8 million and $22.9 million respectively.

David Sadler, spokesman for the Richmond School District, told the News from Richmond that costs have increased due to higher prices for lumber, mechanical and electrical products, and steel and concrete products.

Steel costs have increased 25 percent since 2023 and lumber costs have increased nearly 30 percent since pre-COVID times.

Ongoing supply chain problems, labor costs and bottlenecks in skilled trades have also contributed to cost increases, he said.

He emphasized that the school district is the “leading school district” in British Columbia with its earthquake protection program.

The district has completed a total of 13 earthquake reinforcement projects, including at James Whiteside and William Bridge elementary schools.

Howard DeBeck and Alfred B. Dixon elementary schools are currently the focus of new projects.

To keep costs under control, the district looks for cost-effective methods during the design phase, alternative products of equal or better quality and service providers that offer the best overall value, Sadler explained.

“The Richmond School District closely manages our earthquake protection program budgets, focusing on essential structural and substructural work and the associated impacts to architectural, mechanical, electrical and civil systems,” Sadler said.

“This includes compliance with building codes, temporary accommodation (portable equipment) and replacement of aging infrastructure where necessary.”

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