School ‘fix-it fund’ grows for B.C. election year

$45 million available this year, taken from three-year budget for major repairs complete by next spring

Education Minister Mike Bernier

The B.C. government’s school “fix-it fund” has grown from $20 million last year to $45 million as the government announced 80 repair projects Thursday.

Education Minister Mike Bernier announced a $40 million fund when he called for submissions from B.C.’s 60 school districts in March. To be eligible, repairs to school roofs, windows, heating, electrical and plumbing have to be completed by the end of March 2017, when the next B.C. election campaign is getting underway.

Bernier said the fix-it fund is over and above the annual facilities grant provided to school districts for repairs. He confirmed that the additional funds are from within the current three-year ministry budget, shifted to the current fiscal year.

The fix-it fund is also in addition to the province’s carbon tax fund, financed by school and hospital districts to fund upgrades to heating boilers, windows and other energy efficiency projects.

“They’re ones that normally school districts would have a harder time with their annual facilities grants,” Bernier said.

[List of approved projects here.]

NDP education critic Rob Fleming said the program used to be called the routine maintenance fund.

“This is for deferred maintenance of neglected schools around the province,” Fleming said. “There’s probably hundreds of millions of dollars of deferred maintenance, so even at this rate it would take decades to get on top of that.”

Fleming said he was expecting new school construction funding for growing areas such as Sooke and Surrey, or assistance to keep schools from closing in communities such as Osoyoos.