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Province announces $126.8 million to replace Prince Rupert Middle School

The school has long been described as unsafe to work and learn in due to various issues.
Relief and excitement was shared by Prince Rupert’s political and education leaders. From left to right: Principal Kerri Levelton, District Principal of Indigenous Education Roberta Edzerza, School District 5 Chairperson Kate Toye, NDP MLA Jennifer Rice, Superintendent Sandra Pond and City Councillor Nick Adey. (Photo: Seth Forward/Northern View)

Prince Rupert Middle School is set to be replaced after a $126.8 million commitment from the province was confirmed today, Sept. 5.

Complaints of lead in the school’s drinking water, its building sinking, asbestos and other concerns from students, teachers and parents have plagued the school for years.

Securing funds has come as a tremendous sense of relief for many in the community, according to North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice.

“Of all my announcements, this feels especially rewarding,” she said. “The community has been calling for a building change for a long time. It is no secret it has taken a while to get here.”

The public can expect shovels in the ground in around one to two years, according to Rice and Sandra Pond, superintendent for School District 52. Rice said receiving the funds was “the most important step” in replacing the derelict school.

Rachna Singh, Minister of Education and Child Care, agreed the funds were a long-time coming.

“Prince Rupert residents have waited a long time for a safe and modern learning facility for middle-school students,” she said.

The new school will also include a community gathering space, according to Pond. It will also include a mass timber program, which will significantly reduce greenhouse gasses, according to Rice.

As the current building, located on 9th Ave W, is situated on a seismically unsound former dumpsite, the new building will be on new grounds. However, Pond was unable to confirm exactly where the new location would be.

A modern building will mean a great deal to the community, said Nick Adey, city councillor and former teacher at the middle school.

Along with the new school, there will also be an all-ages community learning centre attached to the building, Rice said.

With the seismic imbalance of the building, chair of the Prince Rupert School Board Kate Toye said she is excited to see the new building and what it has to offer the area.

“This has been a long project in the making with many people working together to get us to this place. It is wonderful to know we will be building an innovative school,” she said. “The new building is an investment in our children.”

For Pond, today’s announcement is a cause for celebration after years of school employees and students having to settle for the dilapidated building.

“It has been a less-than-perfect building to be working in,” she said.

About the Author: Seth Forward, Local Journalism Initiative

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