SD71 has undertaken an ambitious summer scope of work at Lake Trail to prepare the school for seismic upgrades. Scott Stanfield photo

Seismic upgrades on horizon at Courtenay school

When construction is complete, a seismically upgraded Lake Trail Middle School will include a new wing, teacher collaboration rooms, gender neutral washrooms and a standalone child care facility.

And the Lake Trail Community School Garden will remain in place.

School District 71 has retained Heatherbrae Builders to update some of the older sections of the school to accommodate students before beginning seismic upgrades in the fall. Workers have added additional exiting and an accessible washroom, and converted the former fitness/multi-purpose space into classrooms.

The district will be closing off about 25 per cent of the school while the new wing is built.

“There’s going to be a hard wall up in the hallway,” said Ian Heselgrave, director of operations at SD71. “We have to demolish a bit of the old building at the beginning, and then we start on building this brand new wing, which is the bulk of the new school. We’re building off the gymnasium, essentially, and some reconfiguring out in front of the gym. We’re going to have a great school.”

Lake Trail was built in the 1950s, and underwent various additions in subsequent years. In 1999, the gym and four classrooms were built.

“They’re all seismically sound,” Heselgrave said. “The goal is to have that complete for June of 2021. As the kids leave, we’ll demolish the section they’re in now.”

Most of the new school will be “pushing over towards Puntledge behind the gym,” he added. The finished product will be a little smaller than the current structure.

“That’s quite typical,” Heselgrave said, noting older schools often had wasted or inefficient space, with long hallways and oversized classrooms. “The new design, you tend to stack. You’re much more efficient with your space.”

The Ministry of Education has committed $26.2 million toward the upgrades, and the Comox Valley board of education $1 million.

Within the next week, the district expects final approval from the ministry to proceed to tender for the full project. Construction is anticipated to start late October/early November.

The child care facility will be about 205 square metres, likely to be located close to the Willemar/Lake Trail intersection. The district is still working with the community to determine the greatest areas of need.

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