Funds for seismic upgrade sought

Quadra Island’s community centre, built in 1985, is the designated community emergency shelter

The Strathcona Regional District is seeking funding to upgrade Quadra Island’s emergency reception centre – a meeting place that a recent study found is likely not safe during an earthquake.

The island’s community centre, built in 1985, is the designated community emergency shelter but a 2013 evaluation of the centre found the building is at risk of unrepairable damage should a significant earthquake hit.

The seismic evaluation gave the community centre an H3 ranking – a high level on the priority retrofit ranking scale, characterized by isolated failure of the building, such as walls being knocked down.

The regional district has had seismic upgrades for the building on its radar since 2013 but the necessary funding hasn’t been available.

At last Thursday’s regional district meeting, the board took the opportunity to approve submitting an application to the Build Canada Fund – a program which provides one-third funding from each of the provincial and federal governments for projects which promote community growth and sustainability.

The regional district would be responsible for paying the remaining one-third of the project cost.

Ralda Hansen, community services manager for the Strathcona Regional District, said the organization does have money in the budget for its share should the grant money come through.

“A rough estimate is that it will cost approximately $300,000 to provide seismic upgrades to the community centre and provision has been made in the current year’s budget should the application be successful,” Hansen wrote in a report to the regional district’s board of directors.

Quadra Island Director Jim Abram said he’s hopeful the project will be chosen by the Build Canada program, as it’s an important place for the community.

“This is our emergency reception centre, so this is it,” Abram said. “Hopefully it does qualify – fingers crossed.”

The community centre, which underwent a two-storey addition in 2011, is vulnerable to seismic activity because of its rocking plywood shearwalls. The 2013 seismic evaluation report also assumed that there are no hold down anchors in the walls of the main hall to resist rocking. The other concern is over the addition, which was not tied to the original hall at the time of construction and, in the event of an earthquake, would cause the seismic weight of the original hall to be transferred to the addition.

Hansen said because the centre is designated as an emergency shelter, it’s important these issues are addressed.

“In order to be pro-active and prepare for a potential earthquake, it is important to have a safe operational Quadra Island Community Centre that can operate as a disaster management centre and a place of safety where residents and visitors to Quadra Island can find shelter and support services,” Hansen wrote.