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Ground broken for new Cowichan Secondary School building

Education minister joins district chair and Cowichan Tribes councillor for shovel ceremony

Ground was broken on the new Cowichan Secondary School at the Cowichan Place site in Duncan on Dec. 14.

Education Minister Jennifer Whiteside, Cowichan Valley School District board chair Candace Spilsbury, and Cowichan Tribes councillor Suniimtunaat (Stephanie Atleo) put their shovels in the dirt to make it official.

“Children and families in the Cowichan Valley deserve a modern hub of education and community,” Whiteside said. “This new school will provide a safe learning environment that is connected to the land and community. With construction set to begin, I’m very excited for students and families to see their future school becoming a reality.”

It was a long time coming and a hole Spilsbury was happy to dig.

“This day has been a long time in the making,” Spilsbury said. “To see this physical start of construction on our new school is a thrilling moment. As a board, we are so grateful to Minister Whiteside and Councillor Atleo for joining us to kick off the construction of our new school. I also want to recognize Urban One Builders and HCMA Architecture + Design for creating such an inspiring design, we cannot wait to see it come to life.”

The Cowichan Valley School District bought the 5.3 hectare Cowichan Place property in 2012.

The three-storey, 11,975 square-metre, seismically safe school, will incorporate a lot of wood and natural light, as well as room for 1,100 students initially — with the potential to accommodate up to 1,500.

The new school is replacing one that was originally built in 1950 and had several additions until 1998. The new school will incorporate aspects of the Cowichan culture, heritage and design, with breakout spaces to foster innovation and creativity, outdoor gathering spaces, natural lighting and views, and extensive use of wood.

The Government of B.C. is providing $83.8 million for the replacement of Cowichan Secondary School as part of the province’s Seismic Mitigation Program, while the Cowichan Valley School District is providing $2.2 million.