One of the capital projects on the school district’s wishlist is a mechanical upgrade for Glacier View Alternate that would include solar power on the roof. Photo by Mike Chouinard

Solar, seismic work among Comox Valley school district requests

District also wants to get a new roof on top of Mark R. Isfeld Secondary

Seismic mitigation work and building additions are among the latest capital funding priorities for School District 71.

Districts finalize their requests to the Ministry of Education for funding each year by the end of June. They prioritize request under a number of different major and minor capital funding programs.

Director of operations Ian Heselgrave presented the list of projects to be submitted for the 2021-22 school year. The district updates its five-year capital plan every year, removing items that have been completed and moving others up the list. With some, such as a request for a replacement school in this plan, the priority is simply to get in on the list as a placeholder for the future.

“The attempt in this is to adequately project what the key items are that we need to deal with within the district for minor and major capital,” Heselgrave said.

He provided more details about some of the items for which the district hopes to get funding in the near future. He said the district’s recent boundary adjustment process discussions that took place this past year informed the process of updating the projects for the next submission. Key items the district would like, Heselgrave added, include expansions of Royston Elementary and Cumberland Elementary.

“We saw that and heard that loud and clear in those communities that there’s an exceptional amount of pressure on those schools,” he said.

RELATED STORY: School board OK’s most catchment recommendations for Comox Valley

By this summer, the district will add four modular additions and an outside washroom block at Royston and one modular at Cumberland.

Future requests of the ministry include seismic work, with Courtenay Elementary having been on the list for a while.

“I think we’re logically in the queue for that to happen next,” he said. “It seems the ministry staggers this work according to the ability really for districts to manage it.”

Many of the other projects were considered minor requests, with Heselgrave saying their plan is to “make the hits where we get the most value,” though he spoke about some of the important plans. For example, in the carbon-neutral funding category, replacing old boiler systems is a priority. The district can cut greenhouse gas consumption at a school in half simply by replacing old boiler systems, and Brooklyn Elementary is the target for this.

Under school enhancement programs, roof replacement at Mark R. Isfeld Secondary is the top priority.

“It’s a huge roof,” Heselgrave said.

He highlighted the two other school enhancement requests: a fire sprinkler system at Arden Elementary, the last school on “Vancouver Island proper” without a sprinkler system; and a mechanical upgrade at Glacier View Alternate.

“I want to highlight this one because it’s exciting,” he said. “That’s the only school on the Island proper here that’s heated electrically.

He explained the school does not have a natural gas boiler system and that the current system was installed in 1996. The intent is to add a photovoltaic solar array on the roof, switch to efficient LED lighting inside the school and make upgrades to the electrical control panel to save on electricity.

“It’s a great opportunity to try a project like this,” he said.

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

Following the report, the board unanimously passed a resolution to approve the latest five-year capital plan submission to the ministry.

In the spring, Heselgrave updated trustees on work on previous capital request projects, including work at Lake Trail Middle School and the new Hornby Island school.

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