The North Coast community of Masset will be home to the first-ever in Canada, tsunami evacuation tower. The tower will be built starting in the summer of 2021 on the property of Gudangaay Tlaat’sa Naay (GTN) Secondary school in Haida Gwaii.
The $16.5 million funding from the provincial government through the Seismic Mitigation Program is assisted by a $250,000 contribution from School District 50 Board of Education to make capital and safety improvements to the school.
The project will create better protection for the community in an earthquake, Jennifer Rice parliamentary secretary for emergency preparedness and MLA for the North Coast, said.
The 10 metre high tower will increase safety and lessen road congestion in the event of a seismic emergency, Rice said. She has seen first hand the traffic build-up to the current evacuation safety which is 10 km away along one road.
The new steel tower has a capacity for an estimated 250 people and will be built primarily to accommodate the students and staff at a newly amalgamated K-12 education facility. It will include storage for emergency supplies.
Rice said while the provincial government has been upgrading schools for seismic safety over the past couple of years Masset’s safety needed to be taken one step further because of the low ground in the north Haida Gwaii area. While the tower alone costs $2.3 million, the rest of the funds for the project will provide 100 per cent seismic upgrades to the school.
“Masset is a unique community, which is why our local families need a unique school to ensure students can be successful and safe, especially if a major disaster were to occur,” Rice said.
The one-of-a-kind project will be constructed at Gudangaay Tlaat’sa Naay (GTN) Secondary school. Once completed, the project will be home to an amalgamated GTN and Tahaygen Elementary facility which will serve Masset students and families.
In addition to safety improvements, the project will also include renovations to ensure the school is suitable for students in every grade. This includes the addition of a new main entrance, special education room, and the creation of a secondary Xaad Kil Haida language learning space.
With funding from the Province now in place, it will be up to the Haida Gwaii School Board to move the project forward, the Ministry of Education said.
“This means the board will own and operate the tower, and be responsible for access and planning, as well as ensuring it is supplied with goods for emergencies.”
Construction is expected to be completed by the fall of 2022.
We are so thrilled to be moving forward with this project as it will embody many things for our students,” Dana Moraes, chair of the Haida Gwaii Board of Education said. “Most importantly, a safer learning environment, but also it will provide additional educational opportunities and will house our students in one location, which will offer many remarkable opportunities.”
K-J Millar | Journalist
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