Three capital projects in Nanaimo school district received the green light from provincial officials this month.
Quarterway, Coal Tyee and Bayview elementary schools will all receive building envelope upgrades – renovations to the exterior of the buildings to fix water ingress issues.
“People understand it as the leaky condo syndrome,” said Pete Sabo, the district’s director of planning and operations. “In general, it’s premature building envelope failure.”
The Education Ministry approved the projects Sept. 6 and repairs are expected to cost $1.4 million for Quarterway, $633,000 for Bayview and $1.5 million for Coal Tyee.
Trustees were expected to approve capital project bylaws for all three at a board meeting Wednesday evening after press time and Sabo hopes construction can get underway this school year.
“It doesn’t really mean much change to the school other than the building isn’t going to have envelope issues,” he said.
The three exterior repair projects are the first items to come off the district’s five-year capital plan since the seismic upgrade of Pauline Haarer Elementary School in 2008.
The plan – a list of priority projects, including the building of new space, replacement or major renovations to school buildings that is submitted to the Education Ministry annually – has not changed much in recent years, said Sabo.
It includes 39 projects totalling about $78 million.
Replacing Davis Road and Cilaire elementary schools remain the district’s top priorities.
Also high on the list are renovations to Woodlands and Nanaimo District secondary schools, an addition at Hammond Bay Elementary School, mechanical upgrades to Rutherford, Park Avenue and John Barsby schools, and an addition at Cinnabar Valley Elementary School.
Jamie Brennan, school board chairman, said this list could change once the district finishes developing its strategic plan.
“We’re hoping when we develop the strategic plan, there will be some consideration of what to do with the excess capacity,” he said.
The district is unlikely to get the funding for projects such as replacement of Davis Road and Cilaire because neighbouring schools have extra space, said Brennan.
The capital plan lists 91 surplus classrooms in district schools, 28 of which are closed or in the process of closure and 63 of which are approved for school or district use.
Brennan said the board’s first focus is to complete the Wellington Secondary School seismic upgrade project, which is not part of the capital plan because the province already supports this project.
Sabo expects the district will start the project definition report – the last stage before signing a capital project agreement with the province – shortly, but he is not sure how long this final process will take.
He said the report will include detailed designs, budget, schedule and a plan for where the district will house students while renovations are taking place.
Staff are currently leaning toward building some new space at the school and demolishing an old section of the building instead of housing students in portables, Sabo added.