Hamber Seismic Replacement News - 02/09/19


Here’s how to help build Hamber right:

  1. Attend the upcoming Facilities Planning meeting on February 13th at 7:00pm at the VSB Boardroom, 1580 West Broadway.

  2. Sign our PETITION. Forward to your friends and family to sign.

  3. Write a letter to your MLA, copy it to the trustees and to the VSB.

    (Letter writing instructions can be found at the end of this post.)


Thank you to those of you who attended the VSB board meeting on Jan 28th. 

To our shock and disbelief, the Vancouver School Board trustees did not make a motion on our behalf to pause and allow for proper consultation to take place in the designing of the new Eric Hamber. They also did not motion to advocate on our behalf to the Ministry of Education to increase the footprint and allocated budget to get Hamber built right.

The next Facilities Planning Meeting is on Wednesday, February 13th at 7:00pm at the VSB. There will be other groups, including students, parents making delegations at this meeting about the Hamber seismic project. We need to give them a strong show of support so please make every effort to attend the meeting on the 13th! 

This Feb. 13th Facilities Planning Committee meeting will also be the only public forum to hear the results of the VSB survey that we were asked to complete. We are asking for as many people as possible to please attend this meeting! (Please note that at last VSB board meeting, we learned that instead of a summary of your written feedback, the trustees will now be given copies of ALL the surveys to review and consider).

Some more amazing letters have been written. Please read the letters from two Hamber teachers, a Hamber counsellor, a Hamber grad, class of ‘72, and one from a grade 9 student! 

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Write a letter of your own to the Minister of Education, your local MLA, and trustees.

Eric Hamber Seismic Replacement - Your action needed!! **Updated 01/28/19**

On Wednesday, January 23rd, your Hamber PAC and the Hamber Alumni Association made a delegation to the Vancouver School Board Facilities Planning Committee. The presentation can be found HERE. At that meeting we asked the VSB Trustees to pause and allow for the proper consultation to take place in designing of the new Eric Hamber. We also asked the Trustees to do what they were elected to do - make a motion to advocate on our behalf to the Ministry of Education to get Hamber built right!

As a follow up we are asking you to please:

  1. Attend two meetings at the VSB offices.

    • The first one is on Monday, January 28th at 7:00pm. This meeting is when the elected VSB Trustees should make our motion.

    • The second meeting is on Wednesday, February 13th at 7:00pm. We need a strong showing of support at these meetings!

  2. Continue to write to the trustees, the Minister of Education, and your local MLA. Let them know how you feel. Tell them your story. How has your child benefited from the programs offered at Eric Hamber? (Instructions for sending your letters are posted below.)

  3. Sign the PETITIONForward to your family and friends.

  4. Please send us video clips. We’re creating an archive of short (less than 30 seconds) video clips. We may use some of them in a short video. We’re looking for anything that portrays Hamber spirit! Sports, clubs, games, practises, rehearsals, spirit week, performances, competitions, fashion shows, victories, defeats, participation, we love our school...!

    Please upload your video to our Dropbox

    (Please note that by sending us your videos, you are giving us permission to use it in a promotional video and it maybe broadcasted on the internet or in presentations.)

    A special thanks to Patti Bacchus for her well written article in the Georgia Straight about the Hamber seismic project. And to Carrie Bercic, a former Hamber PAC chair and a public education advocate, who has also written an excellent letter to the VSB trustees.  Here is the PAC's letter to the Ministry of Education. If you read these three letters/articles, you will gain a good understanding on what the issues are with Hamber's seismic project. Use these letters and article as a template to write your own letter to the Minister of Education EDUC.Minister@gov.bc.ca and to your local MLA, with copies to the VSB Trustees. 

We encourage everyone to send letters to the following parties. Let’s make some noise so that our concerns are heard. Please write to:

If you missed the Public Info Session on Jan 11th, the display boards can be viewed HERE. The VSB survey is now closed. However you can continue to send your comments to the Ministry of Education EDUC.Minister@gov.bc.ca .

As of today, there are nearly to 4,600 signatures on the petition! If you haven't signed it, please click on the link below, sign and forward to your friends and family.


Patti Bacchus- VSB’s Hamber Secondary rebuild plan alarms parents and alum | Georgia Straight Vancouver's News & Entertainment Weekly_Page_1.jpg
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Here’s what we know:

  • The Ministry of Education is providing $79.3 million to fully replace our school. It will be the largest seismic project in Vancouver’s history.

  • The new seismically safe Eric Hamber will be built next to the existing school on the northwest corner of the site. Students will remain in the existing school during construction. 

  • The new school will be built to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) gold standards. LEED gold schools are healthy, high-performance learning environments that include sustainable low-toxic materials, natural light, abundant fresh air, energy conservation, and reduced demand on local landfills.

  • Construction was slated to begin in summer 2020, with completion in fall 2022, but that date has been moved up as estimated construction costs continue to grow by 1% every month. Construction will now begin in January 2020, with a targeted completion date in early 2022.

  • From 2022-2032, the existing Eric Hamber will be used as swing space to accommodate future schools undergoing seismic upgrades. After that time, the old structure will be torn down.

  • Eric Hamber Secondary’s Seismic Replacement School VSB School Advisory Group consists of Eric Hamber’s Administration, as well as teacher, support staff, VBE, PAC, and student representatives. All Eric Hamber Department Heads have provided input to the Vancouver Project Office (VPO) on the functional requirements and needs of the each of their respective departments.

  • The new school will be built to accommodate 1,700 students, the same capacity of the existing school. The actual physical space will be 26% less than the existing school.

  • The Neighbourhood Learning Centre allocation is 0%, but there will be a child care facility in the new school.

  • The interior design will reflect recent VSB builds like Kitsilano and University Hill Secondary. Floorplans will support 21stcentury learning with flexible spaces, open concepts with multi-purpose spaces, and movable furniture. There will be” huddle spaces” in the halls with half-sized lockers, built-in seating, microwaves and sinks. 

  • The current design for the new Eric Hamber does not include an auditorium. The drama studio and fashion program space will both be substantially reduced. The new school may not include a servery. There will be a dance studio and a band room.

  • Storage spaces will be substantially reduced in the new school. There will be very limited storage for musical instruments and sports equipment for example. 

  • The allocated gym space in the new school will be reduced by 19% from what it is currently. This reduction does not allow for the current number of PE classes to be scheduled in proper gym facilities. 

  • In addition, there will not be a track or a football field on site for at least 10 years while the old school is being used. 

  • The field in the northwest corner at 33rd and Willow will be turned into a parking lot. 

  • Jules Verne Secondary will continue to use Oak Meadows as their outdoor space. 

  • Because the useable onsite outdoor space will be very limited and over-used, other neighbourhood fields and sports facilities may be utilized.

  • The cost to build an auditorium and increased gym space is 6 million dollars. 

From the Eric Hamber Alumni Association

To give a very brief overview and supply some important information…

The VSB and province have decided to use the existing, Eric Hamber Secondary building to run as a seismic swing space to house students from multiple schools going through seismic upgrades and rebuilds in the future.  This will save funds as currently they are placing students in portables for extended periods of time and paying to bus the students. Some are saying that this is all about bottom line and good timing for the political party on that media release last year and that this project will receive much attention due to the geographical location of the school.  Either way, we believe the primary obstacle to achieving a superior replacement school is  the "Area Standards" document that is now the basis for all school construction in the province.  Given that everyone (including the Project Office, the Superintendent of Schools, and the Administration) is bound by this illogical document, the debate and notification of the document shortcomings must occur at the MLA and Minister of Education levels and the VSB trustees must advocate accordingly.  

The Area Standards assumes that a student population will never increase over 1100 students.  At 1100 there are no further additions to gym space, no matter how many more students there are. If the gym space actually increased as it should in that document, then Hamber would get more than 600 m2 for that purpose - enough for at least another small gym! The shortcomings of the document are leading to millions of dollars being invested in school designs that fall short of their communities'  reasonable expectations.

This is an email that was sent to the Minister of Education this morning by Ross Davidson, Eric Hamber grad, class of 1972.  He has given me permission to release as needed and I believe his email would be a positive share for current students, parents and staff. 


To whom it may concern;

Since graduating from Eric Hamber Secondary School in 1972, I have worked in a nearby school district as a teacher and school / district administrator. I was involved in opening new schools, closing old ones and renovating a few worth saving. Clearly I know firsthand the impact rebuilding a school has on a community. I am a Hamber alumni whom, some would say, bleeds blue and maroon ( Hamber school colours ). I and my classmates are so connected to our alma mater that my old 1972 basketball team gathers each year for a golf tournament and storytelling session which includes players, coach and managers. In addition, as well as regular official school reunions, many alumni get together from time to time to reminisce and remember the good old days as a Griffin. Needless to say that Eric Hamber played a huge roll in our lives. In fact my life and career path was significantly shaped by that wonderful school and great staff. I forget most classes I took but will always remember the hours spent in the gyms and on the fields and the events and concerts in the auditorium. Invaluable times and cherished memories for sure ! 

When we first heard that the old building was being torn down, alumni were very sad but realistic in light of the seismic concerns. However, we just assumed the campus would be rebuilt with the same grandeur as the building that served so many for so long and stood as a beacon for public education at the high profile corner of Oak and 33rd.  We are distressed to hear that some facilities such as gym space, track and field space as well as auditorium space will be reduced or eliminated. Driving down Oak street and seeing that track, fields and bleachers is a constant reminder of how a great school facility should be. A high school should be a pivotal place in the community. In fact, some would argue schools are replacing the church and town square as the centre of a neighbourhood. On behalf of all Eric Hamber Alumni, I urge you to rebuild Eric Hamber with all the facilities needed to educate the whole student and accommodate the growing community. Gym, music and fine arts space is integral to developing the whole student both from a curricular and extracurricular point of view. A 1995 movie I remember that helped guide my decisions as a school administrator focuses on this concept and I ask you to watch Mr. Holland's Opus. A quote from the movie always resonated with me and it goes something like this, "...you can teach the kids to read and write but without the sports and arts programs what will they read and write about ?"

Please consider the impact of the new school design for the future of our community, children, grandchildren and for generations to come.

Sincerely yours,

Ross Davidson 

( Eric Hamber 1972 Alumni )

 Together in support.  On behalf of the alumni,

Andrea Nicholson

Eric Hamber Alumni Coordinator


604 454 8959

"Look to the past, Look to the present, Look to the future"