$80M-plus new school for Cowichan, next to university campus

A new Cowichan Secondary School is on the way, thanks to $79.9 million in provincial funding announced Wednesday.

The funding is part of B.C.’s seismic-mitigation program, aimed at schools that have a seismic risk. The existing Cowichan Secondary was first identified through the program in 2004.

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Education Minister Rob Fleming said that Cowichan Valley families have had to live with the fact the school was deemed unsafe so long ago.

“That’s why our government has acted quickly to provide Cowichan Valley students with a new facility that fits 21st-century learning in a seismically sound environment.”

The Cowichan Valley School District is providing an additional $2.2 million for the project, which will see the new school built on a 5.3-hectare property at Cowichan Place, adjacent to Vancouver Island University’s Cowichan Campus.

The school district bought the property in 2012.

Eilis Young, who will be a 2024 graduate at Cowichan, is looking forward to attending a new school.

“I’m overjoyed that my classmates and I get to be part of the first graduating class in the new Cowichan Secondary,” Young said. “This new and seismically safe school will serve our community for many years and generations.

“I hope all the kids of my generation will appreciate the thought that has gone into the design of the school.”

Caroline Kirman, chairwoman of the Cowichan Secondary Parent Advisory Council, said parents are excited to hear the project is going ahead.

“A new Cowichan Secondary means new, exceptional learning spaces for our children,” Kirman said. “These new spaces will help them find success in the world.”

The current school was built in 1950 and has had several additions, the last coming in 1998.

The new building will have an 1,100-student capacity, and the Ministry of Education said it will do away with the need for portables. Completion is expected by September 2023.

The facility will be the first major school-construction project in the Cowichan Valley since 2010. It will include a neighbourhood learning centre that features child care and other programs.

Cowichan Valley school board chairwoman Candace Spilsbury said manypeople have worked on making the project happen, and they envision the school as “an anchor within our community.”

jwbell@timescolonist.com

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