The Greater Victoria School Board has approved the design for a low-carbon, seismic replacement school for Cedar Hill Middle. The current school was built nearly 100 years ago and has an H-1 seismic ranking, the highest level of vulnerability, and must be replaced.
The new seismically safe school, serving 575 students, will be purposefully built to foster greater student engagement, collaboration and connection to Indigenous Education and the traditional territories of the Songhees and Esquimalt Nations.
The new school will also be the greenest building in the School District, providing a 90 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions versus a baseline school model.
“The seismic replacement of Cedar Hill Middle School supports modern-day learning in a safe space for all students and staff,” said Board Chair Nicole Duncan. “Through student, staff, and community engagement, we have heard the importance of creating an inclusive and accessible school that is welcoming for all learners. We recognize that learning practices and requirements continue to evolve, and we must build a school that will inspire and provide amenities that support future generations. Looking to the immediate future need to demonstrate our commitment to address climate change, we must also consider environmental factors. The new build will set a new standard for sustainability in the School District.”
“Students have been at the centre of the decisions in this design process,” said Superintendent Deb Whitten. “The building has been designed embedding the core competencies for middle school in order to deliver unique programs that engage students in their learning. We want to create enriching learning opportunities and provide a space that fosters creativity, connectivity, and collaboration.”
The new two-storey school includes breakout learning spaces and learning neighbourhoods; groups of classrooms located around an open collaboration space to provide students with a smaller learning community within a larger building. All 21 classrooms will include sinks, windows to provide natural light and fresh air, and technology packages.
There are six designated spaces for exploratories: art, drama, music, foods, textiles, and a skills and technology shop. Four inclusive education classrooms are distributed over the two floors, which are integrated in the small learning communities, and used for counselling and supporting students. An Inclusive Education Hub will be centrally located on the ground floor with counselling offices, an English Language Learning Resource Room, a sensory room, and a braille room.
A gymnasium with an all-gender change room and the option of a mezzanine are also included. There will be a Learning Commons (Library), with an Indigenous Welcome Space that has exterior access to connect with the outdoors.
The site plan includes two sports fields, a basketball court, outdoor gathering spaces, additional parking, an on-site pick-up/drop-off space, and a multi-use path along Cedar Hill Road with a raised curb and separated pedestrian and bike lanes for safety.
The Province is providing $42.9 million for the seismic replacement school. The School District will contribute another $3.6 million for a project total of $46.5 million.
“It’s a top priority for our government to provide students with safe, modern classrooms,” said Rachna Singh, Minister of Education and Child Care. “It’s great to see that the Greater Victoria School Board has approved a thoughtful and innovative design for the replacement Cedar Hill Middle School. This is an important step forward in the process, and I look forward to construction starting in summer 2023.”
This is the first middle school to be constructed in the School District since 2004.
Construction will start in summer 2023 and the new school is expected to welcome students in fall 2025. Students will remain in the current school until the new school is ready.
Key Design Features in New School:
- Open concept with breakout learning spaces to advance student collaboration.
- “Learning neighbourhoods”; groups of classrooms clustered around an open collaboration space to provide students with a smaller learning community within a larger building.
- Net Zero Energy Ready by Design; the school will include air source heat pumps, ground source heat pumps, a geothermal field, and solar panels (100kW photovoltaic system).
- Natural daylight for health benefits and reduction in energy costs.
- Efficient heat pumps to help reduce the school’s carbon footprint.
- Outdoor gathering and learning spaces to enhance land-based hands-on learning.
- Indigenous culture and artwork are embodied in the design; the school will include a designated Indigenous Welcome Centre for students and families.
- Stained glass, student artwork, and a wooden bench from the office will be preserved and featured in the new build.
- Ramps and an elevator in a central location to improve accessibility.
The school community and the broader public were asked for input at three stages of design. The District hosted an online information session to discuss the scope of the project, public engagement, timelines and potential use and design features for consideration on November 9, 2021. An online survey was launched following the information session. To review “What We Heard” through Phase One of public engagement, please review the Visioning Report below.
The District continued to consult through Spring 2022 – Phase Two. An open house took place Thursday, March 3, 2022, to gather input on specific site plans and accessibility. The final open house took place Wednesday, June 29, 2022, and focused on design plans. The public also received regular updates at Standing Committee and Board Meetings, and had the ability to present.
All feedback provided was collected and provided to the Board in the form of summary engagement reports to review prior to finalizing design plans.
Engagement Timeline/Project Schedule
- Public Information Session #1 – November 9, 2021
- Survey Open – November 9–23, 2021
- On-going Engagement with School Community – November to February 2022
- “What We Heard” Summary Report to the Board – December 2021
- Public Open House #2 – March 3, 2022
- Public Open House #3 – June 28, 2022
- Summary Engagement Report to the Board – Fall 2022
- Board Approves School Design – Fall 2022
- Application for Building Permit – Fall 2022
- Board and Ministry Approval of Detailed Design – Fall 2022
- Tender Phase – March 2023
- Construction Starts – Summer 2023
- School Completion – Expected Summer 2025*
- Student & Staff Move-in – Expected Fall 2025*
Online Information Session
To review the PowerPoint presentation, click here.
Media Release – Planning begins for new seismically safe Cedar Hill Middle School
Presentation – Public Information Session #1
“What We Heard” Visioning Report – December 2021
Media Release – Open House next week to plan for Cedar Hill Middle Replacement School
Display Boards – Public Open House – March 3, 2022
Cedar Hill Middle School – School Design Backgrounder – June 24, 2022
Media Release – Unveiling of design plans for brand new, seismically safe Cedar Hill Middle School
Display Boards – Public Open House – June 29, 2022
“What We Heard” Public Open House #2 – October 2022
“What We Heard” Public Open House #3 – October 2022
Cedar Hill – Approval of Design – Board Presentation – November 28, 2022