The Sooke School District is currently waiting on word from the province’s treasury board to approve or deny funding for the expansion of Royal Bay Secondary school. If approved, the district said shovels would be in the ground at the end of 2018. (Gazette file photo)

Royal Bay expansion could begin as early as next year

District waiting on provincial approval for between $15 to $25 million in capital funding

Plans for the expansion of Royal Bay Secondary could be moving ahead as early as next year. According to the Sooke School District, talks with the province for capital funding of between $15 to $25 million to expand the secondary school have been going well and officials hope to hear back from the province on funding by the end of the year.

“Ministry staff have acknowledged there is a need for that expansion. It sounds like from the words of [Education Minister Rob Fleming] that he understands the need for that expansion,” superintendent Jim Cambridge said, noting approval for the funding still needs to go through the treasury board. “We have our fingers crossed that it will be supported and we’ll be working on that in the new year.”

RELATED: Sooke School District continues pushing for Royal Bay expansion

Royal Bay has been over capacity since it opened in fall 2015. Knowing the school would eventually have to be expanded, the district constructed the school with the capability of adding another wing in the future. For the last couple of months, the district has been working with ministry staff to complete a project definition report that builds a case for a new wing on the high school.

If the district hears back from the ministry before the end of the year, it can go to tender to find architects to design the expansion in January, with construction potentially beginning at the end of 2018 and taking anywhere from a year-and-a-half to two years.

Once complete the 600-seat expansion could include another gymnasium and science labs, among other spaces, and would make Royal Bay one of the largest schools on Vancouver Island.

RELATED: Construction of schools a top priority for SD62

Board chair Ravi Parmar is optimistic and excited about the relationship with the province and believes the district’s track record of completing other capital projects on time and on budget will help its case to the ministry.

“We are the fastest growing district per capita in the province. We know how to take on challenging projects,” said Parmar, adding the district opened the new Belmont and Royal Bay schools on time and on budget in 2015, as well as a transporation yard on Amy Road and a facilities yard behind Spencer Middle School.

“We have amazing staff that can get these projects done and on time and on budget. All we’re saying to the ministry is ‘hand us over the dough and we’ll get the job done.’”

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