School reno projects on district radar

Long-awaited renovations at two Nanaimo schools are back on the school board's radar.

Long-awaited renovations at two Nanaimo schools are back on the school board’s radar.

Trustees voted last month to keep pressure on the province for funding to either renovate or replace Woodlands Secondary School. The board also asked district staff to prepare a plan for the construction of a new gym at Hammond Bay Elementary School.

Trustee Jamie Brennan, a member of the facilities planning committee, said conversations with Education Ministry staff earlier this year resulted in the district being encouraged to submit an application requesting final approval of funding for seismic upgrades to Wellington Secondary School.

The upgrades were given preliminary approval in 2004, but the project stalled after being included in the district’s old facilities renewal plan.

While that project might now go forward, Brennan said trustees want to remind the province that Woodlands also needs upgrading.

“It’s just to try to keep it in their rear-view mirror,” he said. “It’s an old building and it’s tired. The equipment and facilities are not up to modern senior secondary school standards.”

Despite the need for renovations, Brennan expects funding will not be forthcoming because enrolment at Woodlands is expected to continue to fall.

As for Hammond Bay, students have waited for years for the district to replace the school’s half-size gym with a full-size gym, he said.

Parents lobbied the district for the past five years for a new gym because the school’s population has outgrown the old one.

“We can borrow the money, we can add some of our own capital,” he said, adding that a few years ago the project cost was estimated at about $800,000.

Brennan would like to see the plan come to trustees in September.

“We’ve got to get these things moving forward,” he said. “These kids don’t wait.”