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Childcare spots, artificial turf field, non-profit space included in Vic High expansion

SD61 now aims to welcome students back at the high school by September 2023
The province has announced some amenities that will be included in Victoria High School’s expansion project. (Photo by Cole Descoteau)

Days after students’ return to Victoria High School was delayed by a year, the province has announced some amenities that will be included in the school’s expansion project.

On Saturday, the B.C. government said when the school welcomes students in 2023, it’ll also include child care spaces, an artificial turf field and a neighbourhood learning centre.

The provincial government is providing $77.1 million for seismic improvements, heritage preservation and a 200-seat expansion of Victoria High, with the Greater Victoria School District (SD61) providing $2.6 million for the project. The district announced on June 14 that the project is a year behind schedule and the new target is to have the school ready for students by September 2023.

The project’s budget includes funding for a neighbourhood learning centre that will look to benefit people in the community. After community consultation, the school district said that funding will be used to create office and meeting space for the Inter-Cultural Association of Greater Victoria, a non-profit society dedicated to helping immigrants and refugees settle locally. An expanded kitchen servery and an outdoor observatory classroom are also part of the learning centre funding.

READ: Victoria High School seismic work, expansion a year behind schedule

The province said it’s putting $1.4 million into adding 34 childcare spaces in a modular facility on the school’s grounds. SD61 is partnering with the Fernwood Neighbourhood Resource Group to offer childcare, and with the Queen Alexandra Centre for Children’s Health to deliver supports for children with diverse abilities. The childcare staff will be trained in Indigenous inclusion and provide pre-and post-natal programming.

The district hosted an online survey in 2019 that asked the public what amenities it wanted to be included in the upgrade. The vast majority of written-in survey responses relating to the artificial turf at the school were opposed to the idea.

The Victoria High School Alumni Association, the City of Victoria and the Bays United Football Club provided partner funding for the turf field and expressed support for it in the news release.

Aaron Parker, Victoria High School’s principal, said in the release that the school will have some of the best athletics amenities on the Island.

“The funding of an all-weather turf field is wonderful news for our school. A new high-quality playing surface is part of an athletics revitalization plan that reflects the interests and needs of Vic High’s diverse and vibrant student body,” Parker said.

READ: SD61 budget approved, majority of music programs saved

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