Capacity crunch: Portables added to new Colwood school year after it opens
Published Tuesday, August 30, 2016 6:47PM PDT Last Updated Tuesday, August 30, 2016 6:54PM PDT
West Shore communities are growing at a breakneck pace, but it also means schools are filling up both inside – and outside.
Fuelled by growing enrolment and an ongoing push by councils to attract families to the region, Colwood’s Royal Bay Secondary school has to add four portable classrooms even though it just opened a year ago.
“We’re putting four portables, adding them to the school this year, because we’ve had that kind of growth over the year,” said Sooke School District Supt. Jim Cambridge. “I would say of our 26 schools, 22 or 23 are at capacity right now.”
The growth shows no signs of slowing down. Colwood Mayor Carol Hamilton said she expects the 17,000-person community will double in size by 2025.
While Royal Bay was designed for an expansion, Hamilton said the city had originally lobbied the province for a bigger school – something that is sorely needed right away.
“We tried at the time when we had an opportunity,” she said. “I appeal to the province to get on with the build that needs to be required there in order to get our students back in the classrooms as a whole of the school.”
NDP Leader John Horgan is now calling out the B.C. government for what he calls poor planning when it came to gauging growth on the West Shore.
“The whole community worked for a decade to make sure we could replace the aging Belmont school, and here we are with two new facilities, one of them requiring portables within 12 months,” said Horgan. "That’s bad planning on the province’s part."
The Ministry of Education told CTV News Tuesday that it’s working with the Sooke district to alleviate enrolment pressure.
Cambridge said the district has already applied to the province for an expansion at Royal Bay.
Until that happens, he said the portables are a positive sign of growth in West Shore schools.
Royal Bay currently has capacity for 800 students, but an expansion would bring that up to 1,200, according to the Sooke School District’s website.