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Province announces $80 million upgrades to Vic High

Funding will cover seismic upgrades and a school expansion beginning August 2020
BC Minister of Education Rob Fleming announced the province’s $77.1 million contribution to the seismic upgrades of Vic High (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)

Victoria High School will undergo $80 million of seismic upgrades and expansion renovations beginning in 2020.

On Thursday morning the Ministry of Education announced a $77.1 million contribution to the project, exactly one year after the Greater Victoria School District (SD61) voted to opt for an upgrade on-site rather than a total demolition.

“This is something that’s long overdue,” said BC Education Minister Rob Fleming. “We’re investing in Vic High to give students a safer school, while ensuring a key part of Victoria’s history remains standing.”

READ MORE: School Board votes for $73.3 million upgrade for Vic High, seeks provincial approval

The heritage school was built in 1914 and was a topic of much contention in the neighbourhood, with community and board members debating whether a total demolition or an upgrade would be more appropriate.

After more than 1,700 members of the community voiced their love for the current school, SD61 voted to keep the building and apply to the province for funding.

SD61 will also be contributing $2.6 million to the cause.

“We are thrilled to learn bout the investment in Victoria High. this is great news for our students, staff and community,” said Jordan Watters, chair of the Greater Victoria School Board. “We are grateful that this remarkable 1914 building will be able to serve students for another 100 years.”

ALSO READ: High school graduation rates on the rise in Greater Victoria

As part of the heritage preservation tactics, exterior elements such as terracotta, granite and brick masonry will be retained. Indoor aspects including marble, stained glass and wooden panels will also be preserved.

A new expansion will take over the northern end of the school, where previous renovations happened in the 1950s. This expansion aims to increase the student load by 200-seats to meet the needs of a growing enrollment list in Greater Victoria.

In addition to the school, the province will also be funding the construction of a neighbourhood learning centre in the area, which will host child care programs. So far the exact location of the learning centre, and the number of childcare spaces have not been determined.

Renovations will begin in August 2020 and are scheduled to run until September 2022. During this time high school students will be transferred to the SJ Willis Education Centre.

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