Ryker White, a grade 10 student at Royal Bay Secondary School said hallways at the school are getting more crowded as new students are welcomed in. Minister of Education Rob Fleming (left) and SD62 board chair and trustee Ravi Parmar both said the expansion to the school, which will be complete by August, 2020, is much-needed. (Shalu Mehta/News Staff)

Construction for much-needed Royal Bay school expansion underway

Expansion expected to be ready by August, 2020

Construction is well underway at Royal Bay Secondary School as a much-needed expansion is being built.

“This was a known outstanding issue that this school, as beautiful as it is, was simply built too small,” said B.C. Minister of Education Rob Fleming.

Twenty-one classrooms, 600 seats and a third gym with indoor turf will be added to the school and ready for students to use by August, 2020 according to Ravi Parmar, SD62 board chair and trustee.

Royal Bay was over capacity when it opened its doors in 2015. It was originally built to hold 800 students but the expansion will bring that number up to 1,400.

READ MORE: Construction to begin on Colwood’s Royal Bay Secondary expansion

The expansion, Parmar said, is going to make Royal Bay the largest secondary school on the Island.

Royal Bay was designed with the expansion in mind. Without it, projections show the school would be at 177 per cent capacity by 2026.

“We had portables proliferating on site immediately,” Fleming said. “When you look at the housing that’s underway, it’s obvious there will be kids coming here.”

Construction at the school began in January of this year. The total budget for the expansion is $32 million, with $29 million from the province and the rest coming from a local capital contribution.

The Sooke School District is the fastest growing school district per capita in the province. The District sees about 4 per cent growth per year. Meanwhile, other school districts like Surrey see growth of about 1 per cent per year.

Fleming said the Ministry of Education currently has many projects underway, some that will help with growing schools and communities in the West Shore and Sooke.

READ MORE: Bear Mountain land levelled for possible future school

He said projects on land that was bought in West Langford and on Skirt Mountain are forthcoming.

In December, 2017, the province announced its contribution of $23.3 million towards the purchase of a 6.5 hectare (16 acre) site in Langford’s Westhills community. Plans are to build an elementary and middle school on the site to help ease pressures at Dunsmuir and Spencer middle schools.

Scott Stinson, SD62 superintendent and CEO, said the District also has a long-range facilities plan that will look at building an additional secondary school in the West Shore as well as an elementary school on Skirt Mountain.

Last week, the plot of land owned by SD62 on Skirt Mountain was levelled in preparation for a future school.

Stinson said the District is also looking at the potential of three additional elementary schools along the Latoria corridor, a school in the Happy Valley area and increasing capacity at Sooke Elementary School.

“The whole West Shore and Sooke region continues to grow at an exponential pace,” Stinson said.

shalu.mehta@goldstreamgazette.com


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