Plans for a new section to be constructed at Wellington Secondary School have been given the green light to proceed, with the project expected to go to tender after Christmas.
Trustees approved the plan that includes the demolition of Wellington's A block, which contains the school's kitchen, science labs and a number of classrooms, earlier this week and preparatory work has already begun in the building's rear parking lot where the new section will be constructed.
Plans are for A block to be torn down once the new section is completed, expected within the next two years. The work is part of the long-anticipated $22.6-million seismic-upgrade project at the school.
Project manager Chad Dalrymple said seismic work has already begun in Wellington's B block, which contains the school's administrative offices and shop wing.
"We're on schedule so far and we think we should be OK in regards to the overall project's time lines," Dalrymple said Friday. "We're trying to do much of the work while school is not in session so the students and their classes won't be interrupted with jack-hammering and other construction sounds. But the school has to work around a lot of the work that will be part of the project and they have been very receptive to the scheduling changes."
Former Education Minister Don McRae announced the funding for seismic upgrades at the school during a visit to Nanaimo earlier this year.
In a facilities audit conducted by the Ministry of Education in 2004, Wellington school rated high on the need for seismic upgrades because it's constructed mainly from heavy concrete and more susceptible to earthquake damage than schools built primarily with wood.
In a seismic review of the province's schools conducted three years ago, Wellington was the only school in the district considered to be at "high-risk" to earthquakes according to a new priority list. While the province will pay for the majority of the project, the district will contribute $3 million from its capital reserves.
The school, which currently has capacity for 900 Grade 8 to 12 students, was built in several phases from 1967 to 1997.
It consists of six blocks or sections, including one central block that houses the school library and five outer blocks that house classrooms, shops, a gymnasium and administrative spaces.
Five of the blocks are deemed high-risk and require seismic upgrading, and the plans include the complete demolition and replacement of the A block. The seismic project is scheduled to be completed by fall of 2016.
© Copyright 2013