Tenders being accepted for new Signal Hill school 

Still hoops to jump through for Spring Creek elementary

On Aug. 30, the Ministry of Finance and Corporate Relations authorized School District No. 48 to proceed to tender for the construction of a replacement for the Signal Hill Elementary School.

The original school was built back in 1962, and has had three additions built onto it as the community grew. This year there are a total of six portable classrooms at the site.

"The school just won’t meet the needs of the community right now," says Rick Hume, the director of facilities and services for School District 48. "It’s too small, and it’s old. It’s also got a lot of issues regarding health and safety, mostly about ventilation.

"We removed most of the carpets in ’98, and went with linoleum, but there’s no ventilation."

The school also sits in a flood plain, which would mean that any new additions would require the construction crews to drive piles and freeload the structure against the old building.

"It was easier to just start over," Hume says. "Build a new building and meet the needs of the growing child population in the area. It was definitely a priority. You talk to some people in the community, and they’ve been after this new school for six years now."

The budget for the new school is $7,126,000, including construction costs and equipment such as furniture. It will be built on the same site just north of the existing Signal Hill Elementary School, and will be able to hold 500 students and 80 kindergarten students without requiring the use of portables.

The Ministry of Education announced approval of the new school in December of 1998. Architect Killick Metz Bown Rose was appointed in June of 1999. A requirement of the ministry was that a "repeat plan" be used for the school.

In consultation with the Signal Hill Elementary School Planning and Advisory Committee, the board, staff and the architect, modifications were made to a plan for a school that was constructed in Langley. The final plan includes a community component funded by the Village of Pemberton.

The project proceeded through the Ministry of Finance’s value analysis, and the Aug. 30 announcement provided the final authority for the project to be put to tender.

Construction companies are invited to submit tenders until the Oct. 5 deadline. A company will be chosen later that month, and Hume is hopeful that crews can break ground in November.

"If it’s a mild winter, we hope they can work through the winter to get this project completed," he says.

A little further south, the Spring Creek elementary school is currently in the first month of a four month drawing process. "Both school projects are going on at the same time, but the new Whistler school is still in the drawing stage, so it’s a little behind Signal Hill," Hume said.

If all goes well, the plans will be completed by December and go to tender in January. Construction could conceivably start as early as February, but Hume says they still have a few obstacles.

"We still have to get the money from the ministry, and we still have quite a few hoops to jump through for the Spring Creek job. February is an optimistic projection."

Spring Creek likely won’t open before January of 2003.

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