Rachelle Stein-Wotten

Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Gabriola Sounder

Incremental progress continues on Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools’ long-range facilities plan (LRFP).

The board of trustees received a progress report on the 2021-31 LRFP at its May 25 meeting. The school district is in ‘green light’ phase, that is, continuing to move forward, with 24 of the 34 LRFP recommendations.

Upgrading NDSS remains the board’s number one priority, the progress update states, though the district has not received approval from the Ministry of Education yet for seismic upgrades. The board aims to receive the OK from the ministry for a carbon neutral build in two years with construction to begin within five years. With NLPS projections indicating NDSS will be 20 per cent over capacity by 2030, the vision includes a small capacity increase as well as a neighbourhood learning centre to enhance athletic opportunities, building off the partnership NLPS has with the City of Nanaimo to share facilities including the Nanaimo Aquatic Centre, Rotary Track and Field Bowl, Serauxman Stadium and an artificial turf field.

The progress report also includes suggested ‘u-turns’, recommendations to no longer move forward, and ‘yields’, ones for which progress has purposely been delayed.

The long range facilities plan advisory committee suggests holding off on designing and building annexes built out of portables as they are likely out of budget for the school district given priorities on permanent space in the north end of the district and Ladysmith, and that if a replacement of NDSS is supported by the Ministry of Education, the school district will need to contribute money to the project.

Suggested u-turns include disposition of currently inactive sites or portions of unused active sites.

Those proposals are causing confusion, NLPS Secretary-Treasurer Mark Walsh, said.

“Here we are out in the community talking about how we need more land for schools and we have a couple proposals that maybe we should dispose of some land.” Land may need to be disposed of in the future to put toward a likely capital contribution toward the replacement of NDSS, but “given our need to acquire land is so much greater than the minute little parcels we might want to contemplate disposing of at some point, we’re thinking the board might want to rethink and remove” those recommendations.

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