One of the Island’s newest schools — already bursting at the seams the day it opened — is poised to nearly double in size.
Originally built in 2015 to hold 800 students, Colwood’s Royal Bay Secondary is currently operating at 35 per cent above what it was meant to hold. Now the province is providing $23.2 million for a 600-seat expansion that will add 21 classrooms and a small gymnasium to the original site.
“Our government is making sure that B.C. students get the quality education they deserve, and that means learning in a positive, healthy environment,” said Education Minister Rob Fleming. “For too long, investment in West Shore schools did not match the growth of the community. We are fixing this by adding student spaces in fast-growing areas.”
Construction will begin in September with the expansion expected to be completed in time for fall 2020.
The Colwood high school was designed with expansion in mind, and will start construction at the back of the building. Without this expansion, projections show the school would be at 177 per cent capacity by 2026.
The Ministry of Education says bringing the school’s capacity 1,400 will significantly reduce the future need for portables at Royal Bay and Belmont secondary schools.
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“We are so happy the government is on top of how quickly our school district is growing,” said Ravi Parmar, Sooke School District board chair. “We have a lot of families moving into our district because of our schools, and we are thrilled to be able to give even more students an opportunity to learn in such an inspiring and beautiful space like Royal Bay Secondary.”
The Sooke School District will also be contributing $2 million to the project.
This announcement comes in the wake of the blossoming West Shore and the nearly $24 million that was contributed by the province to purchase land to build an elementary and middle school in Langford.
Fleming gently pointed to a change in government for being able to make changes for growth the Sooke School District needs.
“We can’t get it done unless we have school district partners that share the same urgency as the provincial government, and unfortunately in Sooke and in other parts of the province they’ve been waiting a long time for a government that wants to work with them closely and make those,” Fleming said.
The B.C. school construction capital budget is $1.8 billion over the next three years, the largest in B.C. history. Under the new government there is an “additions” segment of the capital projects that will accelerate adding onto schools that need more space, Fleming said.
Fleming complimented School District Chair, Ravi Parmar, and his staff for developing and maintaining excellent working relationships with local government, which cuts the time on receiving permits for such projects.
Parmar is pleased with the decision to expand Royal Bay and as the area continues to grow, the West Shore may see a new high school at just over ten years from now.