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SD68 approves planning process for Ladysmith school upgrades or expansion

Architect to start planning project for intermediate and primary schools
At a Nanaimo Ladysmith School District business committee meeting on Nov.8, committee members approved an architect firm to develop a plan for seismic upgrades and expansion of both Ladysmith Primary and Ladysmith Intermediate School. (File photo)

Two Ladysmith schools could be looking at new seismic upgrades and expansion in the future after Nanaimo Ladysmith school trustees recommended architectural reports on the potential projects.

At a Nov. 8 business committee meeting, trustees approved KMBR Architects Planners Inc. to develop the plan for seismic upgrades for Ladysmith Intermediate School and an expansion project for Ladysmith Primary School.

In 2022, the school district approved development of a concept plan which laid out a number of options for the seismic upgrades of the intermediate school, including a full seismic replacement of the former École Davis Road, a replacement of the school on the intermediate school site, or upgrades to the existing building.

“We likely wouldn’t be here if we were just going to upgrade the building as is because it’s not a significant project. Of course we’re not aiming for that, we’re aiming for something greater,” said secretary-treasurer Mark Walsh. “We don’t have any hint exactly what we’re going to be approved for as of yet, but we’ll be back to the board very, very soon to talk about what the next big steps are going to be.”

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The requirement to seimically upgrade the intermediate school came after it underwent a prioritized post-earthquake response assessment, in conjunction with consideration around “aging equipment and [school district] south-end enrolment pressures,” according to a staff report.

The committee also approved the same firm to create a project definition report for an expansion of Ladysmith Primary to match enrolment projections and the five-year capital plan.

So far, the ongoing concept plan has outlined two options: grade reconfiguration and an eight-classroom expansion, or a five-classroom expansion. Both would result in portables being moved off site.

“While this project wasn’t viewed to be significant as it’s a simple addition to the school, we were going out for proposals for the Ladysmith Intermediate project so we did tender it at the same time giving opportunities for architects to either apply for one or both of the projects and so that’s why this less-significant project is in front of the board for recomendation for award as well,” said Pete Sabo, executive director of planning and operations.

The respective project definition reports are expected to come next summer and construction could potentially happen in time for the 2027-28 school year.

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Bailey Seymour

About the Author: Bailey Seymour

After graduating from SAIT and stint with the Calgary Herald, I ended up at the Nanaimo News Bulletin/Ladysmith Chronicle in March 2023
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