British Columbia

'Leaky condo' crisis hits Magee Secondary School pushing students into portables

Vancouver's newest high school is leaking so badly students will soon be sitting in portables while a contractor replaces all the windows and walls.

School has been leaking since it opened in 2000, but now a major repair is about to begin

Students at Magee Secondary School, in Vancouver's Kerrisdale neighbourhood, will be in portable while a contractor replaces all the windows and exterior walls to repair leaks. (Vancouver School Board)

Vancouver's newest high school is leaking so badly students will soon be sitting in portables while a contractor replaces all the windows and walls, the Vancouver School Board  has confirmed.

Chair Mike Lombardi said the school was built with the same flaws that caused so many Vancouver condos to develop leaks during the city's leaky condo crisis.

"Instead of it being a leaky house, it's a leaky school," he said on Tuesday.

The new school, which opened in 2000 during the height of the leaky condo crisis, replaced the previous school that first opened on the site in 1913.

But the modern replacement, with its large windows and curving walls, started to leak shortly after it opened.

"You can imagine, if there is a leak in a building and water is coming in through a window, it's not comfortable," said Lombardi.

Now, after years of patching and small fixes, the school board and the province have decided it's time to launch a major repair job.

Windows and exterior walls to be replaced

Much like the leaky condos, Magee will be wrapped up in scaffolding to have its exterior walls and windows replaced.

The repairs are expected to start sometime this fall and last about 18 months, Lombardi said.

"Of course like all construction, it depends on permits with the city. The applications have been made and as soon as we get the approvals and the permits we hope to get going as soon as possible."

Once repairs begin, affected classes will be held in about six to eight portables that will soon be installed on the site.

"When a particular section of the school is done, students will be housed in a new portable on the site ... and we will rotate our way through that. We are working with the contractor to minimize disruptions for the students."

Lombardi says the repairs will cost about $4 million to $6 million, but the school board is not on the hook for the costs.

Instead, the cost of both the school and the portables will be covered by the provincial government, which insures all schools and public buildings in the province, he said.

Magee was the only school built by the Vancouver School Board at that time, and Lombardi said he is not aware of others suffering similar problems.

Vancouver's leaky condo crisis developed when poor construction techniques allowed water to penetrate the outer walls and windows of thousands of multi-unit buildings. It is estimated to have caused about $4 billion dollars in damage from the late 1980s to the early 2000s.