We are a group of like-minded Richmond parents who came together in May of 2016 and advocate for our local schools and the public education system in BC. We represent various schools from all across our district and all have children attending public schools in Richmond.
Our backgrounds are diverse but we are passionate about preserving our neighbourhoods and fighting for equitable stable funding and maintenance of public schools.
Richmond is an economically and ethnically diverse community on two islands, Lulu and Sea Islands, in the mouth of the Fraser River. Richmond is a growing city and is currently home to over 210,000 residents. When considering Metro Vancouver as a whole, Richmond is the fourth most populous city in the region. There are 14 planning areas in Richmond, and the areas with the highest rates of growth are: City Centre, Steveston, Shellmont, West Cambie, and Broadmoor. All areas in Richmond are growing, with the exception of the Fraser Lands area (agricultural land) which lost 10 residents (0.3%) between census years 2006-2011.
Arterial roads in Richmond are spaced evenly apart, running north-south and east-west at half mile intervals. Nearly every neighbourhood 'square' has an elementary or secondary school within its perimeter. Richmond has developed around these hubs, with community centres, parks, and community gardens added over the years. Each neighbourhood supports, and is supported by, the neighbourhood school and the social net developed by successive years of families raising their children. Young families provide energy and a sense of place and welcome, which is recognized by the City of Richmond as a key livability factor (Official Community Plan, Objective 4).
Richmond's economy boasts over 135,000 jobs in many different business sectors, including aviation, agriculture, tourism, and high tech. Many newcomers open small businesses in Richmond, adding to the diversity and vibrancy of the city. Richmond boasts numerous recreational opportunities, from pools, to community centres, to kilometres of dyke and bicycle trails. With so many live/work/play opportunities, Richmond is a world class city in its own right.
One of the challenges Richmond will face in an earthquake is from the type of soil of which the island is comprised. Older buildings were not designed to withstand shaking on silty, sandy soil, which will occur when the next major earthquake hits our region. As a result, 24 schools in Richmond need urgent, life saving, upgrades. Fortunately, due to geography, Richmond is not at risk of tsunamis. Any tsunamis generated in the Pacific ocean would be reduced to 0.5m by the time they reached Richmond, which is well within the capabilities of the existing dyking system.
Richmond Schools Stand united enthusiastically supports:
A maximum enrollment utilization rate of 85%
Immediate release of seismic remediation funds
Stable and sustainable public school funding
The BC Ministry of Education (MoE) calculates enrollment utilization by taking the number of students in a school and dividing by the number of students that school can hold. The MoE DOES NOT include rooms that are necessary for a quality education, for example: music rooms, multipurpose rooms, fine arts studios, special education rooms, and childcare (before and after school care) rooms. An education is so much more than a desk and a chair!
The MoE is also refusing to release seismic remediation funds to ANY school in Richmond unless it's capacity demands are met. The MoE is using children's lives as leverage to force the adoption of Ministry policy. There are 24 schools in Richmond requiring seismic remediation and none have been upgraded since 2011. Only two have been rebuilt/repaired in the last ten years. Clearly, schools in Richmond need to be made safe starting NOW, not some undefined time in the future.
The reason that Richmond is in crisis today is because the MoE has demanded cut after cut, year after year. There is nothing left to cut except schools. Richmond schools, and all schools, will benefit from a regular and sustainable funding model which will lead to stable resources for schools and will ultimately benefit students. We have gone from the second best funded education system in Canada to the second worst. To have a teacher-pupil ratio at the Canadian average, BC would need to immediately hire 6,600 more teachers. And half of all Richmond schools will structurally fail in an earthquake, threatening the lives of thousands of our sons and daughters.
We have had extensive media coverage over tv, newspaper, radio, and online.
Our supporters have also had media coverage, including a number of letters to the editor of the Richmond News.