Four new portables were installed outside of Royal Bay secondary school in Colwood for this school year and more could be coming for the fall. Katherine Engqvist/News Gazette staff

Sooke School District continues pushing for Royal Bay expansion

No word from Ministry of Education on land purchase requests

The Sooke School District is tentatively moving the Royal Bay secondary expansion project forward, with some support from the Ministry of Education.

SD62 superintendent Jim Cambridge said it remains the district’s top capital project. “We’re optimistic but it’s a long process,” he added.

Last week the district received ministry approval to prepare a project definition report that aims to build a case for a new wing on the high school. But to do that it must prove the district needs the space at that location, and can build the addition at a reasonable cost and within a reasonable timeline.

“That’s the first step,” said Cambridge, noting the district is in the process of hiring a team of architects and engineers to complete the report. At this stage, he added, the project is “supported but not approved” by the ministry.

Royal Bay was over capacity when it opened in fall 2015. Aware it would eventually have to be expanded, the district constructed the school with the capability of adding another wing in future.

Since the school opened, however, the district has also experienced larger than anticipated growth, resulting in the addition of four portables for this school year. With more growth and a re-distribution of class sizes due to the Supreme Court decision, even more portables are expected on site this fall, although the situation is not unique to Royal Bay.

The district also has two requests in to the Ministry to purchase property to build new schools to accommodate West Shore population growth. One potential site off Latoria Road is Agricultural Land Reserve property, for which an ALR exclusion application has been made to allow for the building of a school.

Cambridge could not disclose the location of the other site, due to a land agreement. Given that B.C. is in an election campaign, he didn’t expect to hear back from the ministry on the two requests until after May 9.

katie@goldstreamgazette.com