School District 71 office. File photo

Comox Valley board of education approves facility spending plan

Projects include roofing, sewage system upgrade, gym resurfacing

The school district has a little more to spend for roofing and other facility work for the coming year.

At the May 26 board of education meeting, the trustees passed a motion supporting the district’s facilities grant spending plan for 2020-21 school year.

Staff asked the board to approve the spending plan so it can be submitted to the Ministry of Education.

“The plan follows thematically what we’ve done in previous years,” said director of operations Ian Heselgrave.

A staff report notes the total from the Province of almost $1.7 million represents slightly more money than the previous year. Of this, a little over a quarter goes to roofing work. There are roof replacement projects planned for Arden Elementary and the NIDES campus.

RELATED STORY: Two Comox Valley school building projects still moving along

Heselgrave touched on the importance of this funding for some priority high-need projects.

“These monies are really helpful for us to keep ahead of the curve on ensuring that schools are functional and well-maintained,” he said.

Trustee Michelle Waite asked about work happening at one of the schools north of Courtenay.

“I’m pleased to see that there were some funds allocated for the sewage treatment improvements at Huband Elementary,” she said.

She wondered whether the work would be “the fix needed” or a partial solution.

“I know the district has put a huge amount of people power in,” she added.

Heselgrave responded to Waite that the work was “another piece” of the fix. He highlighted some previous work early last year on the system at Huband, which included about four months of work focusing on life cycle management. This phase included replacing parts for the system.

The phase of the project this summer includes emptying out the whole system, which he said had never happened in the 20 years the school has been open, as well as work on the space.

“We’re going to reconfigure the room,” he said.

This will include removing electronics and hardware from walls and moving the tank to “float” it on casters. At that point, they will rebuild and resurface the walls and rewire the system to make the sewage treatment site a safer, more accessible workplace, as well as easier to maintain. Heselgrave said the district has also hired a new independent contractor for site maintenance of wastewater, which should help keep the system up to date.

The staff report lists some of the other more significant projects planned, which include mechanical upgrades at Highland and the board office, bathroom upgrades at Airport and Mark Isfeld, a voice-over internet protocol (VOIP) phone system at Aspen, replacement windows at NIDES, gym floor replacement at Queneesh as well as repairs at other elementary schools with Pulastic gym floors, Big Toy equipment replacement at various schools and interior repainting, lighting upgrades and energy efficiency improvements at a number of schools.

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