Replacing Cedar Elementary is still a top capital project priority for School District 72. Mirror File Photo

Ministry approves three School District 72 capital projects

Replacing Cedar Elementary in Campbell River remains a top priority

The Ministry of Education has approved funding for some of the capital projects on School District 72’s wish list, though the top priority – Cedar Elementary – is not one of them.

Secretary-treasurer Kevin Patrick updated the trustees at the April 9 board meeting, informing them of the status of requests from last year for next year’s project.

“We’ll be looking for a bylaw that is some good news,” he said. “We’ve been approved for three capital projects for this next year.”

The province has approved funding for a boiler replacement with a high-efficiency boiler worth $280,000 at Ecole Phoenix Middle School under the Carbon Neutral Capital Program. Another successful funding project for the district is $105,000 to install universally accessible playground equipment at Penfield Elementary as part of the Playground Equipment Program.

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Finally, the biggest project funded will be continued mechanical upgrades at Carihi Secondary under the School Enhancement Program. This work was initially estimated at $1 million but because of construction cost increases from when the district submitted the application roughly a year ago, the funding will be worth $1,535,506 to cover the work.

“We actually asked for a million and we’re approved for 1.5 [million],” Patrick said. “We were able to get an amendment in…. As this is, it will be a pretty tight budget.”

The ministry approves projects based on a district’s five-year capital plan. The districts have to submit their priorities for the coming by the end of each June.

These are funded through various programs: Seismic Mitigation Program; Expansion Program; Replacement Program; School Enhancement Program; Carbon Neutral Capital Program; Building Envelope Program; Playground Equipment Program; and Bus Acquisition Program.

Patrick noted some other projects that did not get approval for the coming year, including seismic work at Penfield, a two-room expansion at Ocean Grove Elementary as well as the replacement of Cedar. The board approved the list of projects at its last meeting in June.

Trustee John Kerr said that while he was grateful for the projects that will be funded, he was concerned that replacing Cedar Elementary was not being funded.

“This board over the last couple of years has made the replacement of Cedar Elementary School, I think, our top priority,” he said. “It has not been addressed…. For me, it just doesn’t seem right that we have one of the poorest facilities in the province serving some of the most disadvantaged students in our district. We really hope at some point the ministry would see fit to address this.”

The board approved a motion for the capital plan bylaw to include the funded projects. The work is to be complete by March 31, 2020.