Seismic upgrades to 48 of the city of Vancouver’s most vulnerable schools will cost $618 million, about 40 per cent of the amount budgeted for the entire province, according to a consultant’s report released Wednesday.

The B.C. Ministry of Education, which largely financed the report, announced $1.5 billion over 15 years in 2005 to seismically upgrade more than 700 of the province’s schools.

The $618 million would cover bare-bones seismic upgrades. But Vancouver Board of Education chairwoman Patti Bacchus said many schools require major renovations that should be done at the same time, which means her district would need more than $1 billion on its own.

B.C. Education Minister George Abbott did not say whether more funding would be forthcoming, but said the province is making “good progress” on its 15-year pledge to seismically upgrade B.C.’s at-risk schools.

“In the near future, the ministry intends to bring forward the next phase of the school seismic mitigation program,” he said in a statement on Wednesday.

Vancouver has the most at-risk buildings of any school district and has already spent several hundred million dollars on completed or current projects, Bacchus said. The cost of upgrading or replacing schools that have already been completed or approved is not included in the report, which was prepared for the Vancouver school board by Coriolis Consulting.

The 48 schools identified in the report have structures that are considered by consultants to be high risk in the event of a “significant seismic event.” That means those buildings could sustain “widespread damage,” or “structural failure” in the event of a major earthquake in the region, according to the report. The report offers three options for each of the 48 vulnerable schools, including seismic upgrades only, seismic upgrades combined with general facility upgrades, or replacement.

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