Victoria High: Planning for the Future
Victoria High School students will soon have a safer learning environment with more classrooms, and the iconic exterior of the oldest high school in Western Canada will remain intact.
The Government of B.C. is providing $77.1 million for seismic upgrades and a 200-seat expansion of Vic High to keep students safe and ensure they are not attending an overcrowded school. The upgrade also meets another need in the community, as it includes a new neighbourhood learning centre for child care programs.
This project provides the safe school students deserve, while ensuring a key part of Victoria’s history will continue to stand. Exterior elements, such as terracotta, granite and brick masonry, will be retained. Interior features, including the marble and art glass in the main entrance and lobby, and the painted wood panels and art glass in auditorium/balcony, will also be preserved.
The Greater Victoria School District is contributing $2.6 million to the project. Construction on the upgrades and expansion at Vic High is expected to begin in August 2020. Students will be re-located to a renovated SJ Willis Education Centre while the project is underway.
This will minimize disruption to students by contractors, and students will be in a safer school as soon as possible. The work on Vic High is scheduled to be complete by September 2022
- Victoria High School was built in 1914, with additions in 1955 and 2011.
- The 2011 block (the Fairey technical wing) meets current building codes and does not require upgrades.
- The total project budget of $79.7 million includes the cost to renovate the SJ Willis Education Centre to provide temporary accommodation for Vic High students and for students in future seismic upgrade projects in Victoria.
In April 2018, an extensive public consultation process was launched to provide an opportunity for the community to learn more about the options and provide input about what’s important to them when planning for the future. More than 1,700 people participated in the open houses, staff and student events and an online survey.
There were a number of considerations when planning for upgrades to the high school including educational needs, capacity, and student enrolment projections. Other considerations included operating and capital costs, heritage, environment, community values, and community amenities. There was a range of options presented to the public, including a full seismic upgrade, building a new high school, or retaining the exterior facade and rebuilding the interior. See Vic High Backgrounder for option details.
All of the input provided on the potential options was compiled into a Engagement Summary Report for the Board of Education to review. After considering the input from the public and stakeholders, the Board of Education directed the Superintendent to further explore the costing of specific options. These options included Seismic with Enhancements, Seismic Plus with Enhancements and additional capacity, and a new build. At the Board Meeting on June 25, 2018, Trustees voted to submit the ‘Seismic Plus Enhancements (1000) Plus NLC’ Option to the Ministry of Education for approval.
The ‘Seismic Plus Enhancements (1000) Plus NLC’ Option includes upgrading the 1914 building to meet current seismic safety standards. The option will retain the exterior of the current building while enhancing the interior. The biggest change will be the modernization of learning spaces for staff and students. Other upgrades will include new concrete stairwells, upgrades to the mechanical systems, and the installation of a new fire sprinkler system. The option also involves building a two-storey addition on the east side of the school that will accommodate 200 more seats, increasing the school’s capacity to 1,000 students. The District will also apply for funding to include a Neighbourhood Learning Centre; Neighbourhood Learning Centres provide space for community-based programs and services and are funded from a different Ministry of Education program than seismic upgrading.
The estimated cost of the ‘Seismic Plus Enhancements (1000) Plus NLC’ Option is approximately $79.7 million. This includes the addition of a Neighbourhood Learning Centre, which would cost approximately $6 million.
Planning will take approximately one year and then construction will occur over two school years. Construction on the upgrades and expansion at Vic High is expected to begin in August 2020. Students will be re-located to a renovated SJ Willis Education Centre while the project is underway.
Proceeding with a higher cost seismic option and the desire to create additional capacity, the Board is expected to contribute funds above and beyond what will be received from the Ministry of Education for the project. The Greater Victoria School District must contribute $2.6 million to the project.
The District is proposing to exchange lands with the City of Victoria and then lease lands to the Capital Regional District (CRD) as an expansion to the current lands leased to the CRD, to
For more information about the proposed land agreement, please visit the following:
- Media Release – Capital Region Housing Corportation proposes land agreement with the City of Victoria and School District 61
- Victoria High Seismic Upgrade and Land Consultation – FAQ
**The Greater Victoria School District hosted a consultation meeting on the use of land and potential future amenities for Victoria High School on Thursday, June 20th, 2019 at Victoria High in the theatre.
VICTORIA HIGH: Engagement Summary Report
- Vic High Staff session
- Engagement session: Public open house #1
- Student session
- Engagement session: Public open house #2
- Survey results – Overall
- Survey results – Parents of current and future students
- Survey results – Past students
- Additional correspondence
- Media coverage
- Communication tools: media releases, ads, social media, business card and poster
- Display Boards
Greater Victoria School District Long-Term Facilities Plan
Guides the capital investment decisions for supporting a long-term vision for the District. Takes into consideration:
- Demographics, Utilization and Capacity
- Programming and Future Needs
- Facility Condition
- Community Partnership and Enterprise
- Land and Leasing
- Appendices – School Specific Information
For the Long Term Facilities Plan, click here.