Now that the land exchange involving the Routley school site has been agreed to by both Township council and the Board of Education, work will proceed quickly on establishing a middle school in Willoughby.
A press release from the board states that “the Langley School District is eager to begin moving forward with plans to construct a new middle school to serve the growing Willoughby area.”
Funding for the construction of the middle school was allocated last October, when Premier Christy Clark announced funds for two new schools to serve the Willoughby area, a middle school and an elementary school. The latter includes site acquisition funding.
The school district wants to see both built in the next couple of years, in order to manage enrolment growth on the Willoughby slope and minimize additional operational costs that will be incurred if construction delays take place.
Its goal is to have the new elementary school open for September, 2013, and the middle school for September, 2014. Recent communication from ministry staff has also reinforced its desire that the district proceed in an expeditious manner.
As the province’s funding announcement for the middle school did not include funds for site acquisition, the school district must utilize land which it already owns.
It owns one five-acre parcel of land in the Jericho area, at 206 Street and 68 Avenue, and will acquire a second parcel in the Yorkson area near 208 Street and 84 Avenue, as a result of the Routley land exchange agreement.
Though the Jericho site was the location pinpointed for the middle school in the district’s five-year capital plan, building at this site would present several challenges, the press release states.
These include the fact that there is no municipal service infrastructure on the site, and the district would be responsible for incurring the significant costs required to put it in place. Staff estimate that the engineering, planning and construction of the required infrastructure would add at least eight or nine months to the construction timetable for the school.
In addition, Langley Township has no current plans to develop the area surrounding the site. The school would take up most of the site, leaving only a small portion for playfields.
The Yorkson site on 84 Avenue already has municipal infrastructure in place, will be located next to the Township’s planned 70 to 75 acre Yorkson Community Park and would allow for a faster construction period. Using that site, it would be possible to have a middle school operating by September, 2014.
This spring, the district will be holding community consultations on the long-term facilities plan for the Willoughby area.