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Soil test permit sought for NWSS site

The school district is applying for a conservation permit to test soil conditions at New Westminster secondary, but not in the area were cemeteries previously existed.

The tests are to verify the scope of work required for construction of a replacement school before a project proposal is submitted to the Ministry of Education, said schools project director Jim Alkins.

The sampling will likely be done through a combination of drilling and digging. It will be conducted around the present Massey block (near the corner of Eighth Street and Eighth Avenue) as well as the buildings and fields at that end of NWSS.

Those are the areas where the district plans to eventually build the new high school.

For example, said Alkins, the district needs to find out if there’s oil in the ground below where the automotive shop was, which would require an environmental cleanup.

“We need to capture the costs, we need the cost certainty [to present to the ministry],” said Alkins. “It’s confirming the site conditions so we can cost the project appropriately in order to give a number the ministry is comfortable with. It’s typical of every (capital) project.

“This is a bit more unusual because of the previous uses on the site so it requires a bit more due diligence so we understand what the issues are.”

Alkins said when the soil testing excavation is done there will be an archaeologist present, and workers will be cognizant of the environmental, historical and geotechnical issues at the site. Although some testing to measure a variety of soil conditions was done in 2008, some of the standards have changed and the district has to make sure it is in compliance with environmental regulations, Alkins said.

The Pearson block (near 10th Avenue) section of the high school and a portion of the centre section sit on the 5 1/2 acre area where the cemeteries were located.

“We are not doing anything in that area,” said Alkins.

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