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Historic local elementary school in danger of demolition

David Lloyd George Elementary School is in jeopardy of being torn down if the school can not pay the costs of necessary seismic upgrades

David Lloyd George Elementary School is in jeopardy of being torn down if seismic upgrades are not made. Photo by Danica Walker
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Reported by Danica Walker

A heritage school in Marpole could be demolished by the Vancouver School Board if the cost of seismic upgrades outweighs the cost of rebuilding it.

David Lloyd George Elementary is a high priority in the Seismic Mitigation Program, with a risk rating of H1, it is ranked as one of the most at-risk buildings in the program.

Heritage Vancouver wants the school board to provide the money to upgrade the school as they claim it has architectural significance and importantance in the community.

Preserving the school’s legacy

Mary Anne Guthrie-Warman, a member of the advocacy committee for Heritage Vancouver, said she hopes to work with the school board to preserve the heritage significance of the building, which first opened in 1921.

“The way to go is to try to get the province to see that saving heritage is an important part of our environment in Vancouver,” Guthrie-Warman said.

She said seismic mitigation is a process that needs to happen but can be done with historic value in mind.

“[The buildings] have to be mitigated, you know they’re dangerous without that, but that can be done within the context of [heritage],” Guthrie-Warman said.

The process of seismic upgrading

Janson Ho, director of the project office at Vancouver School Board, could not speak about the specifics of David Lloyd George Elementary, as a decision has not yet been reached, but spoke of the mitigation process in general.

He said the process looks at the cost of upgrading a school and compares this to the cost of building a new school.

“If the replacement school is less [costly], then that would be a direction that we would recommend, rather than spending the money to seismically upgrade an old school,” Ho said.

However, Ho said that heritage value does factor into the decision-making process, and a heritage consultant is involved and their report helps decide which route to take.

Ben Thompson is a David Lloyd George alumni who graduated in the 1980’s, runs an unofficial Facebook page for other graduates from the school. He said he’s hopeful that the school board will find a way to upgrade the school, while still preserving the building’s heritage value.

“Of course I’d like to lean on the fact that they will do the seismic upgrade, and they will preserve that part of Marpole,” Thompson said.

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