Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Gabriola Sounder
Replacement of Nanaimo District Secondary School as the school district’s top facilities priority continues to be reflected in its most recent capital plan submissions to the Ministry of Education and Child Care. Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools’ trustees approved the 2024-25 major and minor capital plan submissions at their June 28 meeting. NDSS looms large in the projects list, appearing in the seismic and replacement request categories as well as school enhancement, which the school district has said is a strategic move.
Like the requests for Ladysmith Intermediate, the school district submitted multiple requests under the school enhancement category for NDSS to “indicate the critical nature of the non-seismic work that is required at these schools,” a staff report says. NDSS requests include siding, insulation, windows, electrical, roofing and washrooms.
The message to the ministry: “Don’t give us money to seismically upgrade it, just replace the darn thing,” Secretary Treasurer Mark Walsh explained to the business committee June 14. “These are all the failing systems in the school.”
The submissions also follow the district’s long-range facilities plan recommendation to align seismic upgrades with other plan priorities including environmental upgrades and expansions in an effort to save time and money.
Like last year’s submission, Gabriola Elementary School also appears on the seismic mitigation program funding request list in the group one priority, ranking seventh in the list. School districts can only make five formal requests under the program in their annual submissions.
As of May 2023, the ministry’s seismic mitigation program progress report says 219 schools around the province have been upgraded, 16 are either under or proceeding to construction, 18 are developing business cases and 244 are future priorities. In NLPS, Cilaire, Pleasant Valley and Wellington have been completed, business cases are under development for Ladysmith Intermediate and École North Oyster and 31 schools are future priorities.