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Provincial funding provides new community amenities at upgraded Vic High

Provincial funding provides new community amenities at upgraded Vic High

June 19, 2021 at 9:22 am  BC, News, Politics

The upgraded, expanded Victoria High school will be home to new child care spaces, an artificial turf field and dedicated space for the Inter-Cultural Association of Victoria to serve people in the community when it is ready for students in September 2023.

“While schools are the foundation of learning for students, they also are important community hubs,” said Jennifer Whiteside, Minister of Education. “Upgrading and expanding this historic building will ensure students and staff can learn in a safe building that better supports their education, while retaining the iconic look and feel of this important landmark. With new community amenities included, this facility will be worth the wait for the thousands of people it will benefit for generations to come.”

The Government of B.C. is providing $77.1 million for seismic upgrades and a 200-seat expansion of Victoria High school, the oldest public secondary school in Western Canada, retaining its heritage look and feel while ensuring students will be safe in an earthquake. The Greater Victoria School District is contributing an additional $2.6 million.

The project budget includes neighbourhood learning centre (NLC) funding for additional space to benefit people in the community. After consultation with partners in the community, the Greater Victoria School District will use this funding for an office and meeting space that will be used by the Inter-Cultural Association of Greater Victoria, a non-profit society dedicated to helping immigrants and refugees settle in the Greater Victoria area. An expanded kitchen servery and an outdoor observatory classroom are also part of this NLC funding.

“A neighbourhood learning centre at Victoria High and the wonderful services it will reflect the vision of our students, staff and community,” said Jordan Watters, chair, Grater Victoria School Board. “Schools are often the centre of the community, and it’s very important that families and community members have access to and feel a connection with their school. As such, we are incredibly grateful for the support of the ministry and our community partners who have helped ensure that the new and seismically improved Victoria High will be able to serve its community in new ways that deepen connections and strengthen community supports.”

As part of the project, an artificial turf field will provide year-round play opportunities for the community. Partner funding for the artificial turf field will be provided by the Victoria High School Alumni Association, Bays United Football Club and the City of Victoria.

“With decades of service to students in this city, Vic High is vitally important to our history, heritage and its families,” said Grace Lore, MLA for Victoria-Beacon Hill. “I am so proud of the work that’s gone into preserving our high school while ensuring students and staff are safe, and I am equally excited about what the upgraded facility and all of the amenities that come with it will do for families in Fernwood.”

In addition, the Province’s ChildcareBC New Spaces Fund is providing $1.4 million to add 36 new child care spaces in modular facilities on school grounds. The Greater Victoria School District is partnering with the Fernwood Neighbourhood Resource Group to offer child care, and with the Queen Alexandra Centre for Children’s Health to ensure children with diverse abilities are supported.

Child care staff have completed Indigenous inclusion training and will provide pre- and post-natal programming to assist families.

“The pandemic has highlighted how critical early learning and child care is to families, communities and our economic recovery. Improving access to child care creates more opportunities for parents – particularly mothers – to go back to work or school and provides children the best possible start in life,” said Katrina Chen, Minister of State for Child Care. “By working together, we’ve achieved significant progress toward an inclusive, universal child care system that will support the needs of families for many years to come.”

Construction on the school began in September 2020, and the school is expected to be ready for students by September 2023.

“It’s an exciting time for people in Victoria to know that Vic High will be upgraded, expanded and also preserved so it can continue serving local students just as it has for decades,” said Rob Fleming, MLA for Victoria-Swan Lake. “I know the students, teachers and staff are going to re-create an amazing school community when the renewed Vic High is ready.”

The upgrade and expansion of Victoria High school is part of the Province’s continued work to provide the best possible learning environment for B.C. students in safe facilities.

Since September 2017, the Province has approved over $2.3 billion for major school construction projects and site purchases, including almost $500 million on Vancouver Island.

To support this momentum, Budget 2021 includes $3.5 billion for school capital investments that will continue benefiting students and families throughout B.C.

A backgrounder follows.

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