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Funding approved for francophone school site purchase in Smithers

November 19, 2022 at 8:54 am  BC, News, Politics, Provincial

Francophone students in Smithers are a step closer to having a school now that funding has been approved to purchase a site.  

“It is so important that families who speak French as a first language have the opportunity to send their children to a francophone school that’s close to home,” said Jennifer Whiteside, Minister of Education and Child Care. “I’m pleased to see that a site has been secured in Smithers for the future home of école La Grande-ourse. We are committed to continued work with the Conseil scolaire francophone de la Colombie-Britannique to ensure that francophone students have access to quality education across B.C.”

The Province has provided the Conseil scolaire francophone de la Colombie-Britannique (CSF) with $2.1 million to purchase property for a future permanent home for école La Grande-ourse in Smithers. École La Grande-ourse offers classes from kindergarten to Grade 7 to the francophone population.

With the lease ending for the current space used to operate école La Grande-ourse, the new site purchase, at the southeastern corner of Vancouver Street and 3rd Avenue, will ensure francophone students have a place to learn for many years to come. Now that a school site has been secured, the Province will work with the CSF to find the best short- and long-term solutions to meet the needs of the community’s francophone students and families.

“I am proud of the work we are doing to support Smithers’ francophone students and their families by purchasing a site for the école La Grande-ourse,” said Nathan Cullen, MLA for Stikine. “Our government is taking significant steps to meet the demand for French-language education in Smithers.”

Since September 2017, the Province has provided the CSF with more than $56.8 million for site purchases in Burnaby, Kamloops, Penticton, Victoria and Pemberton and almost $11.3 million for the new temporary modular school (École Beausoleil) in Victoria. The Province will continue acquiring school sites and building or upgrading schools for francophone students throughout the Province.

“We welcome the news of additional funding to purchase a school site in Smithers with great enthusiasm. Ensuring permanent and stable access to school sites is crucial for the CSF to offer high-quality French-language education to francophone students throughout the province,” said Marie-Pierre Lavoie, board chair, CSF. “We look forward to continued collaboration with the Ministry of Education and Child Care in developing a modular school building to satisfy the immediate needs of the community. The school site will also allow us to plan for the eventual construction of a permanent, long-term school building for école La Grande-ourse.” 

Budget 2022 includes $3.1 billion for school capital projects during the next three years, including new and expanded schools, seismic upgrades and replacements, and land purchases for future schools. 

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