Victoria High School will be seismically upgraded 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 Victoria High to keep students safe and ensure they are not attending an overcrowded school. In addition, the upgrade will include a new neighbourhood learning centre for childcare programs.
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 the 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 completed 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.
Background – Phase One of Consultation
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 an 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.
‘Seismic Plus Enhancements (1000) Plus NLC’ Option
The ‘Seismic Plus Enhancements (1000) Plus NLC’ Option includes upgrading the 1914 building to meet current seismic safety standards. The option retains 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. A Neighbourhood Learning Centre will also be included to provide space for community-based programs and services. a
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.
Next Steps – Phase Two of Consultation
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, in order to contribute $2.6 M to the project. The District is proposing to trade the Springridge Commons Site, the Compost Education Site and two lots adjacent to Haegart Park to the City that would remain in their current form. The District would acquire all of the lands that were previously under the Ferrie Technical Building and those that are currently gravel. Presently, some of the titles in that area remain under the ownership of the City of Victoria and BC Housing. These lands would be consolidated with the lands currently leased by the CRD. The consolidated lands would then be leased for 60 years to the CRD. In addition, an eight-metre easement would be granted to the CRD to create a public path and buffer between the school and the housing development.
In June 2019, the District held a public meeting to discuss the disposition of district property and the proposed land agreement while gathering feedback. At the time, it was requested the district host an additional consultation session in the fall of 2019.
The District hosted an open house to consult on the disposition of lands near Victoria High School on November 12, 2019. A summary report of “What We Heard” was shared with the Board of Education to review before making a decision on the land exchange and lease.
Victoria High Land Exchange and Lease: Engagement Summary Report – Fall 2019
- Media Release
- Open House Information Boards – November 12th
- Comment Cards
- Email and Letter Correspondence
- Media Release – Capital Region Housing Corporation proposes land agreement with the City of Victoria and School District 61
- Victoria High Seismic Upgrade and Land Consultation – FAQ
- Victoria High Land & Potential Amenities Consultation Meeting – June 20th – Presentation
- Comment Cards from June 20th Consultation Meeting
Victoria High: Engagement Summary Report – Spring 2018
- 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.