British Columbia

Vancouver school's earthquake supplies mouldy and expired

Parents at a Vancouver school are calling for more provincial funding for earthquake supplies, after discovering their school's emergency kit was water-damaged and out-of-date.

Expired emergency supplies

11 years ago
Duration 2:10
A Vancouver parent discovered that some of the emergency supplies stockpiled at her son's school had expired, the CBC's Lisa Johnson reports

Parents at a Vancouver school are calling for more provincial funding for earthquake supplies, after discovering their school's emergency kit was water-damaged and out-of-date.

After the recent earthquake in Japan, parent Andrea Coutu asked to see the earthquake kit at her child's school, Henry Hudson Elementary in Kitsilano.

Inside the shed she found expired water, food rations that would expire this summer, and light sticks that expired in 1998.

"It was appalling. The water supplies had expired some time ago, but the water barrel that the school district had provided to make up for that is totally empty," she said.

The shed had also been flooded and items were water-damaged and mouldy, she said.

"It was disgusting. I can't imagine what they would do if there was an actual earthquake. And the supplies that were there, there aren't even enough for the current student population," she said.

Water barrel still empty

That was in April. When CBC News visited the shed on Tuesday the water barrel was still empty.

The school board's emergency management officer told CBC News workers haven't had time to strap it in and fill it, but there are supplies to boil water in the meantime.

School Board Chair Patti Bacchus admits it's time to examine emergency supplies across the district.

"It is a concern, because we might find some similar conditions across the district. It has been an area that hasn't had the level of attention I think it has required," said Bacchus.

Provincewide problem?

In the meantime parents at Henry Hudson are buying their own water for the school and demanding better oversight of the supplies by the school district.

And Robert Ford, the chair of the Parent Advisory Council at Henry Hudson, warns the problem goes beyond Vancouver. 

He says across B.C., maintenance of earthquake supplies is inconsistent. In many schools, it's up to parent volunteers to raise funds for the supplies, while in others, districts take more responsibility.

"Because so much of the province is in an earthquake zone, it would make sense that it's a provincial responsibility to say, every school should have these basic things and we will cover this amount," said Ford.

Ford has written Premier Christy Clark, calling for provincial funding, saying this year's earthquakes in New Zealand and Japan should serve as a reminder to be prepared.