Photo Wikipedia

Photo Wikipedia

$103.4 million needed for new schools

Replace MEMSS, merge Kildala and Nechako elementaries into one new facility.

More than $100 million should be spent replacing and consolidating Kitimat’s schools, an extensive report commissioned by the Coast Mountains School District has recommended.

Involved would be demolishing and replacing the Mount Elizabeth Secondary School facility with a new one to include Kitimat City High, and merging Kildala and Nechako elementaries into one new facility.

The report, which places the Mount Elizabeth replacement project first on a priority list of capital expenditures for the entire school district, was accepted by the school board on September 27.

In 2017 dollars, the Mount Elizabeth project carries a price tag of $65.6 million while the Kildala-Nechako project would cost $37.8 million for a total of $103.4 million.

The report was prepared by Cascade Facilities Managemet Consultants this year and follows provincial guidelines for school districts to assess the physical condition of school facilities, while forecasting future needs based on anticipated student enrolments over the next decade with an eye to capital expenditure submissions to the province.

Its authors point out that the report is not an educational study of what is taught within district schools.

Overall, the report concluded the school district’s facilities are generally, with the exception of newer construction, in poor or very poor shape although well-maintained, with the school district also maintaining too much space given its current and projected student population.

“The Board of Education of Coast Mountains School District has shown great initiative over the past seven years, determining the downside of under-utilized facilities and falling enrolment, taking steps to close and consolidate schools, and re-organizing district programs and grade structures to provide the best opportunities for students,” the report noted.

“This foresight and courage to make hard decisions will unfortunately continue to be needed over the first half of this decade.”

Key to the report are enrolment projections so that the size of facilities match the number of anticipated students.

It notes the education ministry has set a target utilization rate of 85 per cent for the school district’s schools, a critical benchmark when new construction is being considered.

“The impact of being below the ministry capacity utilization factor is that priority for capital projects from that district can be reduced when the ministry assesses competing district submissions,” the report states.

In regards to the current Mount Elizabeth facility, the current capacity is 1,175 students while the current Grade 7 to 12 enrolment is just 426, a number forecast to rise to 460.

That utilization rate, combined with the state of the facility, is propelling the call for a new school for 500 students, including those attending Kitimat City High.

Kildala Elementary and Nechako Elementary also have low current utilization rates, the former at 44 per cent and the latter at 51 per cent, leading the report to conclude both facilities could be replaced with a new one to hold 500 students.

The report used a wide-ranging collection of census data, fertility rates, in-migration and other data, to forecast a modest rise in the school district’s current population from 4,130 to 4,534 students by 2025/2026.

Not included in the report’s student population projections are any of the planned or proposed large scale industrial projects for the region, but it does say projections and planning can change should there be any economic activity that would boost the region’s population.

Any large scale contemplated changes to school facilities in Kitimat would require the involvement of the public, something emphasized by Kitimat school trustee Margaret Warcup when the report was discussed at the school board’s September 27 meeting.

“I understand that the ministry has criteria about space utilization, but there’s missing comments about innovative use of school space… and in particular looking at replacements of elementary schools, there’s not enough in there for me about Strong Start space and Early Year space in terms of good practices coming in,” Warcup added.

While the report does lay out a timeline beginning next year for planning and construction of new facilities, there’s no guarantee when anything might happen because project financing comes from the province.

Still, school district secretary-treasurer Alanna Cameron said the district is demonstrating its readiness.

“By putting the fact that we are ready to start consultation in 2018, it says to the ministry and the public, if the ministry was to approve our capital plan, we are ready to go,” she said.

“Some districts may want a placeholder, like ‘eventually we are going to want to replace this, not right now, but sometime in the next five years’. But what we are saying is ‘today, now, we are ready to go.’

“That’s why we put 2018. It may or may not happen then, but it’s just saying that we are ready as soon as ministry would grant the funds,” said Cameron.

Just Posted

Hirsch Creek Golf Course Volunteer, Augie Penner, talking about how he continues the tradition, set by Joe Atamchuck, to catch and release fry that keep spawning at the course. (Jacob Lubberts photo)
VIDEO: Kitimat golf course volunteers making moves for the fishlings

During the highwater season, salmon are known to lay their eggs in the ponds at the golf course

Ocean Wise’s cetacean photogrammetry research program uses aerial images collected by boat-launched drones to measure the body condition of whales. (Ocean Wise Marine Mammal License MML-18 photo)
LNG Canada commits $750K to whale research, conservation initiative

Ocean Wise education team will work alongside educational and Indigenous leaders in the area

The Sam Lindsay Aquatic Centre will be closed from June 28 until September 13 for annual facility maintenance as well as teach pool and decking repairs. (Black Press photo)
Sam Lindsay Aquatic Centre closed: June 28 – September 13

The aquatic centre will be closed for annual facility maintenance

Shoes are being left at the viewpoint on Haisla Blvd in response to the 215 bodies discovered at the Kamloops Residential School. (Jacob Lubberts photo)
Haisla Nation responds to 215 Indigenous children found buried at the site of Kamloops Indian Residential School

“Many Haisla children were sent far away, to places such as Port Alberni, and to Coqualeetza”

Susan Jay hosted a plant and garage sale on May 25 and donated all of her proceeds to the Kitimat General Hospital Foundation to help with the purchase of a new bus for residents at Mountain View Lodge, Delta King and the new Kitimat Valley Housing Society dementia home. (Barbara Campbell photo)
KGHF thanks Susan Jay for her help to purchase a new bus for seniors in multi-level care

Susan donated all proceeds to KGHF, her efforts netted the hospital foundation a total of $1,760

Hirsch Creek Golf Course Volunteer, Augie Penner, talking about how he continues the tradition, set by Joe Atamchuck, to catch and release fry that keep spawning at the course. (Jacob Lubberts photo)
VIDEO: Kitimat golf course volunteers making moves for the fishlings

During the highwater season, salmon are known to lay their eggs in the ponds at the golf course

Tk’emlups te Secwepemc Chief Rosanne Casimir stands outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School after speaking to reporters, in Kamloops, B.C., on Friday, June 4, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Kamloops chief says more unmarked graves will be found across Canada

Chief Rosanne Casimir told a virtual news conference the nation expects to release a report at the end of June

A woman wears a vaccinated sticker after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. ranks among highest in world in COVID-19 first-dose shots: health officials

More than 76% of eligible people have received their 1st shot

A screenshot of the First Peoples Cultural Councils First Peoples’ Map. (First Peoples Cultural Council)
Online resource blends B.C.-Alberta’s Indigenous languages, art and culture

Advisor says initiative supports the urgent need to preserve Indigenous languages

An artists conception of the new terminal building at the Pitt Meadows Regional Airport.
Air travel taking off in B.C., but lack of traffic controllers a sky-high concern

There will be demand for more air traffic controllers: Miller

Canadian Armed Forces experts are on their way to North Vancouver after a local homeowner expressed worry about a military artifact he recently purchased. (Twitter DNV Fire and Rescue)
Military called in to deal with antique ‘shell’ at North Vancouver home

‘The person somehow purchased a bombshell innocently believing it was an out-of-commission military artifact’

Amy Kobelt and Tony Cruz have set their wedding date for February, hoping that more COVID-19 restrictions will have lifted. (The Macleans)
B.C. couples ‘gambling’ on whether COVID rules will let them dance at their wedding

Amy Kobelt and Tony Cruz pushed back their wedding in hopes of being able to celebrate it without the constraints of COVID-19

A plane is silhouetted as it takes off from Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, B.C., May 13, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Report calls for airlines to refund passengers for flights halted due to COVID-19

Conclusion: federal help should be on the condition airlines immediately refund Canadian travellers

Most Read