Belmont Grade 11 student Ravi Parmar helped organized a petition and student walkout last week to highlight the conditions of the high school. On Tuesday he met with Education Minister George Abbott.

Message for new schools delivered to government

A student’s message about the woeful state of Belmont secondary school has reverberated into the corridors of power.

Ravi Parmar, a Grade 11 student from Langford, met with Education Minister George Abbott Tuesday, not long after Juan de Fuca MLA John Horgan presented the 16-year-old’s petition for new schools to the legislature.

“(Abbott) was very supportive of the plan the school district has brought forward,” Parmar said. “Unfortunately he couldn’t give us a timeline on when we could hear ‘yes’ or ‘no.’

“I invited Minister Abbott to come to Belmont, and he said he would be honoured. Hopefully that happens before the end of the school year.”

SD 62’s long-standing plan involves building a new high school at the Glen Lake elementary site and one in Royal Bay, and underwriting the $80 million project by selling the current Belmont property.

Sooke School District officials were told earlier this year the ministry might fund one school, but two are unlikely in the near future.

Parmar led a student walkout last Friday to highlight the problems of the large, 60-year-old Belmont building, which include asbestos sealed in walls, water leaks and duct tape used on floors. He was also incensed about elevated carbon dioxide levels in three classrooms logged in a air quality survey of the school this year.

“I told him the student perspective how it is to go to Belmont. I told him about all the duct tape, asbestos and the leaky roof,” Parmar said. “And how (the West Shore) is growing very fast.”

In the past two weeks, Parmar and other Belmont students gathered almost 1,900 signatures calling for the ministry to fund the district’s plan.

Parmar said students are prepared to continue lobbying loudly for new schools, be it through rallies and petitions.

“If we don’t get an answer (from government), it will be back to work.”


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