The new school on Hornby Island is one of the more recent major capital projects for the school district. Record file photo

The new school on Hornby Island is one of the more recent major capital projects for the school district. Record file photo

Seismic work, school expansions on Comox Valley district’s wish list

Districts are to submit five-year capital plans to education ministry each year

School District 71’s wish list for facilities includes seismic work and expansions at a few locations, as well as replacing a couple of school buildings.

At the final board of education meeting of the school year in June, director of operations Ian Heselgrave updated the trustees on the district’s annual request for capital project funding to the Ministry of Education and Child Care.

“We have a plan that looks at expansions of schools based on priority,” he said.

RELATED STORY: Ministry approves HVAC, roof work at schools in Comox Valley

The plan includes major and minor projects for the district. Each year, school districts submit a prioritized list of projects in different categories. Major capital refers to seismic mitigation; expansion such as new schools, additions and site acquisition; school replacements; and work targeting rural schools. Minor capital includes school enhancement, carbon neutral infrastructure, bus replacement, playground and building envelope work. The last helps schools suffering water damage from building envelope failure.

Specific projects the school district has identified as top priorities include additional space with seismic work at the Cumberland Community School annex as well as expansion, expansions of Royston, Brooklyn and Isfeld, replacement schools at Ecole Puntledge Park and a K-9 school for Union Bay, as well as demolishment of the old Union Bay site. Mechanical, lighting, HVAC and electrical upgrades, bleacher and flooring replacement, rugby field remediation and playground structure replacements are among the minor capital requests in the various categories. Cumberland Community School is only project on the list for the Building Envelope Program.

Trustee Janice Caton expressed concern about the possibility the ministry might freeze capital spending.

Heselgrave responded they expect there will be less capital funding available for the next year than in previous years. He added there is recognition Comox Valley is one of the fastest growing districts and is facing space challenges, which should improve the chances for funding.

Secretary-treasurer Brenda Hooker also clarified that there had been misconceptions about the ministry’s plans, though there are challenges around escalating costs.

“They’ve clarified that there’s no freeze, and that the funding that they had previously announced is still in place. It’s just there’s just more demands on that funding,” she said.

At the end of the discussion, the board approved the district’s submissions for capital funding.

The ministry reviews five-year capital plans through late summer and the fall before responding to school district in the early part of 2023 for work that would proceed for 2023/24.

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School District 71

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