Canada’s first-ever tsunami evacuation tower is being constructed in B.C. The provincial government is providing $16.5 million for seismic upgrades and a new tsunami evacuation tower at Gudangaay Tlaat’sa Naay (GTN) Secondary school in Masset, a remote coastal community in Haida Gwaii.
Once complete, the school will be home to both GTN and Tahaygen Elementary students as a single-site K-12 facility that will serve Masset families for generations to come.
“Every family deserves to know their children will be safe at school, especially in coastal, remote communities like Masset,” said Jennifer Whiteside, minister of education, in a statement. “Our government’s Seismic Mitigation Program is investing in schools and communities throughout our province, and I can’t wait to see this one-of-a-kind project completed to protect the health and safety of the school community.”
Construction on GTN and the tsunami evacuation tower is expected to begin in summer 2021 and to be completed by fall 2022. The new tower will be a 10-metre tall steel structure built on school property that includes storage for emergency supplies. This will be a significant improvement, as the current evacuation safe zone is more than 10 kilometres away from the school.
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.
“We are so thrilled to be moving forward with this project as it will embody many things for our students,” said Dana Moraes, chair, Haida Gwaii board of education. “School District No. 50 (Haida Gwaii) also recognizes the uniqueness to having the first tsunami evacuation tower in Canada and the additional safety this offers to our students and families.”