While COVID-19 pandemic continues to disrupt and alter plans for just about everyone and everything, it hasn’t stopped construction crews from moving ahead with a $45 million seismic upgrade project in Ucluelet.
According to a release issued by the Alberni School District, construction crews began work on the first phase of seismic upgrades at the Ucluelet Elementary School and Ucluelet Secondary School on May 19.
Estimated to cost $45 million, the project will see seismic upgrades and partial replacement, including a new classroom block for 250 student spaces at Ucluelet Secondary School. It also includes a Neighbourhood Learning Centre for 25 child care spaces, as well as a new music room, library, and an administration block.
Ucluelet Elementary School will also receive seismic upgrades as part of the project.
The province announced last June that it was providing $45 million to fund the upgrades at the two schools. Ucluelet Secondary School is the only high school in the Tofino and Ucluelet area.
The Alberni School District said the first phase includes the excavation of soft soil and rock, and partial demolition and repair of the library, administration area and the corner of the two‐storey classroom block.
Additional work includes the relocation of classrooms within the secondary school to accommodate the elementary school classrooms, and the construction of the concrete foundations for the new academic block, as well as other work.
Unitech Construction Management has been tasked to complete the project, which the district said COVID-19 health risks are a “major consideration” in the company’s construction plan.
“The initial phases of work involve small work crews that can work in heavy equipment or open areas where safe distancing can be achieved,” the school district said. “Unitech Construction Management will engage a COVID monitor to oversee the work activity and strictly enforce the established safe work practices.”
According to the school district, local workers will be “engaged if possible” and visiting workers will be required to follow safe distancing and proper hygiene on and off the job site.
Phase one of construction is expected to be completed before classes are slated to begin in September.
“Prior to the start of classes Unitech will work closely with the administration of the schools to ensure safe access to the schools for students, staff, parents and the public,” the district said.
The school district had planned to hold public meetings, but has been unable to do so because of COVID-19.
“We recognize we are operating in a constrained environment and will continue to provide online updates as the project progresses. We look forward to the time when we can host a public meeting at the site to engage more fully with the school community, neighbours and general public,” the district said.
The overall project is expected to be completed in September 2022.