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Replacement secured for 'unsafe' Port Renfrew school with tiny population

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A remote community on the west coast of Vancouver Island has secured a replacement for its seismically unsafe elementary school.

The Sooke School District says the provincial government has agreed to set aside money to replace Port Renfrew Elementary.

Before the province hands over the cash, the district must present a business case for the project. It’s projected to cost $10 million.

“It is one of the most seismically unsafe schools in the province,” SD62 board of education chair Ravi Parmar told CTV News last month.

The school was built in 1970. With 18 students enrolled there this year, it’s one of the least-populated schools on Vancouver Island.

“I’m assuming that with a massive seismic event, it’s not going to stand at all, so it needs a major upgrade,” Tracy Charlie, a councillor at the neighbouring Pacheedaht First Nation, said in a recent interview.

CAMPUS DREAM

If all goes to plan, the new school will be one of the first buildings people see when they drive north into Port Renfrew.

The community does not have a middle nor high school, so older students spend hours commuting to Sooke every day.

Late last month, Pacheedaht First Nation asked Infrastructure Canada for $24 million to build a school for grades 6 to 12. If approved, the hope is to build the high school next to the new elementary school.

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