Wellington seismic project back on the table

The long-awaited seismic upgrades at Wellington Secondary School could get the green light from the province soon.

Pete Sabo, the district’s director of planning and operations, said district staff met with the Education Ministry recently to discuss the district’s new long-range facilities plan, which trustees approved last October.

Ministry staff suggested the school board submit a letter requesting authorization to proceed to the project agreement stage, the final step required to get provincial funding.

The project had previously gone through two preliminary stages of planning and approval.

Wellington upgrades were approved in 2004 as a standalone project, but were put on hold when it was tied to the previous facilities renewal plan in 2007.

That plan was voted down by trustees following the 2008 election and then included in the new facilities plan.

A bid to fast-track the upgrade before the new plan was finished was rejected by the province in early 2010.

“It’s good to see that the minister is looking to support us on at least one of our capital projects,” said Sharon Welch, school board chairwoman.

Sabo said the ministry wants updated enrolment projections, a reference to the previous planning done on the project and new cost estimates.

The upgrades were originally estimated to cost about $5 million, but that cost went up to more than $33 million in 2009 – under the old plan – because trustees decided to include a 300-seat expansion of the school so the district could operate with one less high school.

Sabo said ministry staff have indicated there is more work to do on other aspects of the plan, but suggested that because Wellington upgrades were previously approved, the board could request permission to go to the next stage.

An Education Ministry official confirmed district and ministry staff talked about Wellington and the application to proceed to the next stage.

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