Friday, February 28, 2020

MLA Rice is ready for a ribbon cutting

The proposed replacement of Prince Rupert Middle School made for a
theme for MLA Jennifer Rice in the Legislature this week

North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice got a little bit ahead of School District 52 this week, speaking towards plans for a new Middle School as part of her Budget review on Wednesday at the Legislature.

The need for a new facility has been a long running theme for the MLA, made one of her top priorities when she was an opposition member when Ms. Rice would frequently raise the issue in the Legislature, taking on then Minister of Education Bernier over the glacial state of action.

Since taking to the government side, the public statements from the North Coast MLA in the Legislature have been significantly fewer, with her work on the file perhaps more of the behind the scenes elements of the government caucus discussions.

As part of her presentation. the MLA was channeling some apparent excitement for this long anticipated structure and making for a commentary that suggests the bulldozers are but hours away from revving up their motors.

After years of underfunding, our government is making record investments in education, with more support and safer learning environments for students. We have funded more than 80 school capital projects, including seismic upgrades, school replacements and land purchases for future and safer schools. 

I'm happy to say that work is underway right now in replacing the Prince Rupert Middle School in my riding. This is a school that has had so many devastating impacts, from a leaking roof, broken boiler, asbestos in the walls, lead in the drinking water, and, of course, it's not seismically safe. 

I'm really happy that a new school will be built in the coming days and months and weeks ahead.

However, the timeline for development at SD52 may be a little bit longer than that of the optimistic and hopeful notes from the MLA.

As we noted in our observations from a Monday night appearance at City Council, Cam McIntyre, the Secretary/Treasurer for the School District outlined the status of the Board's work to this point, noting that they are now at the site investigation phase.

When it comes to a timeline, Mr. McIntyre provided a chart on Monday for Council, making note of the path ahead, with a Concept plan to be submitted to the province by March 31st and noting that he was hopeful that if all falls into place approval from Treasury Board could be received by Christmas.

Though putting a shovel in the ground would still seem to be a fair bit off in the distance yet, the same for any ribbon cutting ceremonies.

Last Night SD52 hosted an Open House to provide an update for the community on the way forward towards replacement of PRMS, offering up a wider overview of the four final site options that they are  considering for the new facility.

The School District provides more background on the PRMS replacement project and takes the opinion of the public on the site options through a page on the SD52 website, those notes can be found here.

For more notes of interest on education in the Northwest see our archive page here.

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