The century-old Victoria High School building in Fernwood is safe from any threat of demolition, at least for now.
The Greater Victoria School District is moving forward with two options to allow for much needed seismic upgrades at the school, and both involve keeping the existing structure.
The Operations and Planning Committee voted unanimously to move ahead with the two options at a meeting on Monday evening.
One being looked at would see a seismic upgrade with internal improvements, the other would also see additional capacity and a Neighbourhood Learning Centre.
“I think this is the Board saying, or at least the committee saying, that we’re not interested in tearing down Vic High and building a new school,” said SD61 trustee Jordan Watters.
“We are interested in preserving Vic High and making sure that it is the most supportive learning environment for our students today and the next 100 years.
The decision comes after extensive public consultation that included an online survey with more than a 1000 respondents, sessions for Vic High staff and students, and two public open houses that attracted a total of nearly 500 people.
At the outset, the school district listed three possible options and estimated costs. The least expensive, in the $50-$60 Million range, was to build a brand new school for 1000 students. The seismic upgrade with internal improvements was estimated to cost in the $60-$70 Million range, the second proposed option including new facilities would cost more.
“They’re definitely ambitious so we expect to have to meet with our community partners to access extra funds,” said Watters.
“That might be at the federal level or through Heritage dollars.”
The SD61 Board of Education is expected to choose a preferred option to be presented to the Ministry of Education by the end of June.
It is ultimately the province that will decide how much money is available to spend, and what the future for the Vic High building will be.