School safety questions raised in Campbellton

The New Brunswick government upgraded a Campbellton high school to make it earthquake proof more than a decade ago but failed to upgrade the nearby Polyvalente Roland-Pépin.

Sugarloaf Senior High School earthquake proofed in 1990s

The New Brunswick government upgraded a Campbellton high school to make it earthquake proof more than a decade ago but there are questions about whether the nearby École Polyvalente Roland-Pépin received similar improvements.

Students at Roland-Pépin will be bused to Dalhousie for the remainder of the year after their school was closed for safety reasons. When renovations were being done on the francophone high school, the Department of Education said construction workers found structural problems with the school.

After Roland-Pépin and Moncton High School were closed for the remainder of the school year for health and safety issues, Education Minister Jody Carr demanded every school that was built prior to 1980 be subjected to a structural safety review.

One school in that review that will likely pass is Campbellton's Sugarloaf Senior High School.

Michael Mortlock, the chairman of School District 15, which oversees anglophone schools in the region, said the provincial government policy led to the earthquake-proof upgrades at Sugarloaf Senior High School.

"We followed the compliance. They gave us the money to do that. And they went into the school, opened up the inner walls by taking the brick out, checking to see, putting rods in, filling them all back up with concrete," Mortlock said.

Mortlock said the provincial government decided the renovations were needed because the area is on a fault line.

While Campbellton's anglophone high school was earthquake-proofed, it is unclear whether the francophone high school was subjected to similar upgrades.

Officials from School District 5, the board that oversees francophone schools in the region, and the Department of Education, were asked if Roland-Pépin received the same earthquake-proofing improvements in the 1990s and if so how officials missed the problems discovered this year.

No one from the department or the school board could explain whether or not those earthquake-proofing reforms were made to the school.

Mortlock said it's hard to imagine why the francophone high school wouldn't be in the same earthquake zone as Sugarloaf.

"You can see the polyvalente from Sugarloaf. As the crow flies, you're less than 2,000 yards," Mortlock said.