LANGFORD - Shovels hit the ground and smiles were all around as Education Minister Peter Fassbender joined students, staff, parents, school district officials and local dignitaries for the first day of construction on the new $53.9-million Belmont Secondary school in West Shore today.
Belmont Secondary will accommodate up to 1,200 students from grades 9 to 12. It will feature a gymnasium with seating for 1,000 people, which will allow the school to host island and provincial athletic championships. Belmont's successful Cosmetology Program will continue at the new school, and the facility will have three additional skills and trades shops to support a variety of programs.
To meet growing student enrolment in the school district, Royal Bay Secondary in Colwood will also be built. The $40.8-million Royal Bay Secondary will accommodate up to 800 students from grades 9 to 12.
The Sooke school district is considering skills and trades training programs for both Belmont and Royal Bay Secondary schools, such as culinary arts and automotive technician. The district is also exploring links to the ship building industry with possible metal fabrication and marine trades training programs.
Both Belmont Secondary and Royal Bay Secondary will have Neighbourhood Learning Centres to provide various services to communities, such as a family support centre, health and wellness screening office, child-care facility and a multi-purpose room equipped with a community kitchen.
The Sooke Board of Education will sell the existing Belmont Secondary site after demolition of the school. The proceeds from the sale will be used towards the cost of the new replacement school.
Peter Fassbender, Minister of Education -
"We're delighted construction has begun on the new Belmont Secondary, and construction is set to begin soon on Royal Bay Secondary. These two new schools will be modern, safe facilities with skills and trades training programs to equip students with the skills they need for B.C.'s job market."
"In less than a decade there will be one million job openings, with almost half of them in the skilled trades and technical fields. Giving students access to trades and skills programs in secondary schools are key to helping solve this skills shortage."
Wendy Hobbs, chair, Sooke board of education -
"Our persistence, collaboration and hard work have brought us to this fantastic day. This is only the beginning of the District fulfilling its goal of providing two new state-of-the-art secondary schools for the community, and it's something we can all be proud of. We have been waiting for this day for a long time."
* The Sooke school district (SD 62) currently has three school-based Accelerated Credit Enrolment in Industry Training (ACE-IT) programs: cabinet-making and cosmetology programs at Belmont Secondary and the professional cook program at Edward Milne Secondary.
* SD 62 is part of the South Island Partnership with Camosun College, which offers a wide range of post-secondary trades training opportunities to grades 11 and 12 students. Youth enrolled in these programs can receive credit toward their first year of college and certification while they complete their high school education.
* Since 2001, the B.C. government has spent more than $146 million in the Sooke school district to complete six capital projects and seismic projects, including $53.9 million to replace Belmont Secondary and $40.8 million for Royal Bay Secondary.
* The government has also provided more than $12.6 million for additional space for full-day kindergarten.
* Since 2001, government has spent more than $2.4 billion to complete capital projects including 96 new and replacement schools, 151 additions, 27 renovations and 25 site acquisitions across BC. All new and replacement schools have been constructed to meet the latest seismic standards.
Information on the new Belmont Secondary and Royal Bay Secondary: http://newschools.sd62.bc.ca/
B.C.'s Skills and Training Plan: http://www.bcjobsplan.ca/skills-and-training-plan/
Accelerated Credit Enrolment in Industry Training (ACE-IT) programs: http://www.itabc.ca/youth-educators/ace-it-program
BC's Education Plan: http://www.bcedplan.ca/
Government Communications and Public Engagement
Ministry of Education