Pitt Meadows Secondary School is going to be replaced.
Funding for the new secondary school in Pitt Meadows was announced by the province on Friday, March 10, with New Democrat MLAs Lisa Beare and Bob D’Eith on site for the announcement.
About 40 people attended the event held at the front entrance to the school, with around half of the attendees being members of the Student Voice group at the school.
The new school is going to be safer and larger, with more capacity, pending approval of the school district’s business plan, said the MLAs.
The school will have the same capacity as the existing school, the planned expansion refers to the addition of a neighbourhood learning centre in the new school, noted Flavia Coughlan, secretary treasurer with the school district.
“A brand new seismically sound, rebuilt school for Pitt Meadows,” said Lisa Beare, MLA for Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows, who couldn’t contain her excitement making the announcement. Beare noted that she has been advocating for a new secondary school in Pitt Meadows since she, herself, was a school board trustee – before being elected as an MLA in 2017.
Money for the new school is coming out of the 2023 Capital Budget.
Beare couldn’t estimate how much the final funding would be or how much the cost would be to build a brand new school. That is what a business plan and more consultation with the public through the school board will determine, she said.
“The school and the province have been working on a project definition report and a business case for years. So now that just needs to be refined and finalized to go to the final business case where the final number is decided,” Beare explained.
But, she said, no matter what it costs the province is committed to building this school.
School board chair, Elaine Yamamoto, noted that they had been working on a new school in Pitt Meadows, “for a very long time.”
Yamamoto said she can’t wait to have an expanded and modern facility, a place that is welcoming for the whole community.
“Here in Pitt Meadows, the school is the heart of the community,” said Yamamoto. “It has the potential to be a meeting place for the community.”
In November, the government announced funding to replace Eric Langton Elementary School with a safer, more seismically sound facility and add another nine classrooms, which will increase the school’s capacity to 680 seats.
The shovels are going into the ground for Eric Langton very soon, noted Yamamoto, adding that the design consultation process is being done right now.
“That’s really exciting,” she said.
Katzie First Nation Coun. David Kenworthy said Katzie students have been attending Pitt Meadows Secondary since it opened.
“It’s a big step for all of us as neighbours to grow into something bigger, and stronger to strengthen the community and strengthen the future of Pitt Meadows,” he said, adding that it is going to be a good journey to be a part of.
The principal of Pitt Meadows Secondary noted that even though the building has a long, rich history in the community, “it has indeed passed its best-before date.”
He noted the generations of families who have passed through the school doors.
“Two nights ago at our spring band concert, one mother remarked to me the building hasn’t changed a bit since she came through here in the late ‘90s. She even remarked, it even smells the same,” said Colin Sharpe to laughter.
“I look forward to a newer, more modern, seismically safer building. But I would like to ensure we keep the community feel and honour our past,” he stated.
Acting Pitt Meadows Mayor Mike Hayes thanked MLA Beare for her unwavering commitment to the community of Pitt Meadows and the provincial government for making the investment, “which will support our families now and well into the future.”
“The building of new learning environments like this one will continue to support student achievements and well-being and will encourage students towards a strong path of learning and success,” he said.
Bob D’Eith, MLA for Maple Ridge-Mission said he knows first-hand the hard work that has gone into advocating for the funds for Pitt Meadows Secondary.
“A lot of collaboration,” he said in a release. “With this replacement of PMSS and the replacement of Eric Langton, it’s wonderful to know that soon even more kids in SD42 will be receiving their education in safer, more comfortable schools.
“I know we will miss the A&W lockers and the tiles with watermarks and the broken tiles in the bathrooms. It will be fabulous to have a brand new modern space for all of you students and those who are coming after,” concluded Beare.
Since September 2017, the Government of B.C. has announced more than $3 billion for new and improved schools, as well as land purchases for future schools throughout the province. This includes adding more than 20,000 new student spaces and 33,000 seismically safe seats at B.C. schools.
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