Site prep is now underway at the site of the planned southside school on Petawawa Road at the end of Tyson Road along the Vedder River in Chilliwack. (Paul Henderson/ The Progress)

Site prep underway for Chilliwack southside school

Timeline is fall 2022 for opening of $49 million, 930-seat school near the Vedder River

A contractor has been chosen and initial site preparation is underway for Chilliwack’s newest school.

If all goes as planned it will be two years until the doors open for the southside school, funding for which was announced one year ago.

The new as-of-yet unnamed 930-seat, Kindergarten-to-Grade-8 school is scheduled to be ready for students in September 2022.

• READ MORE: Province pledges nearly $49 million for new Chilliwack school

That’s a year later than was originally proposed in the Chilliwack school district’s vision for the future. In February 2018, bid documents released looked to have substantial completion by the fall of 2020 on the 12.43-acre strip of land along the Vedder River between the Vedder Rotary Trail and Petawawa Road at the end of Tyson Road.

• READ MORE: School district reveals ‘2020’ vision for new southside school

School district secretary-treasurer Gerry Slykhuis confirmed this week that the delay was mainly due to the time it took to get final Ministry of Education approval for the project.

That was formally announced by Education Minister Rob Fleming in September 2018 when he was in town for the grand opening of Promontory Heights Elementary’s new addition. It was there he announced $48.6 million for the new school as a way to address overcrowding.

“Chilliwack is one of the fastest-growing school districts in B.C., and we are making investments to match that growth to make life better for families,” Fleming said a year ago.

The Ministry of Education determined that the Chilliwack school district should contribute $5 million to the project, money that is unfortunately coming out of the district’s operation budget. That along with funding for new portables has depleted the district’s reserves.

For that reason, the board of education sent a letter to the Ministry in September asking for a reduction in the amount of the district’s financial contribution to the southside school.

“If we do not get relief from … these costs next year, we will need to make cuts to services to children,” a decision report in the Sept. 17, 2019 school board agenda stated.

The Ministry, however, said “no.”

The proponent selected to build the southside school is Surrey-based D.G.S. Construction. The district is still finalizing negotiations regarding the design-build agreement. While that is underway, Slykhuis said they have entered into a limited notice to proceed, which allows the company to begin with the site work.


@PeeJayAitch
paul.henderson@theprogress.com

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