Construction on middle school to start in spring

An artist
An artist's rendering of the new middle school, as seen from Queens Avenue, near the intersection at Eighth Street.
— image credit: Courtesy SD40

Construction on New Westminster's new west side middle school will begin in April at the John Robson elementary site (Eighth Street and Queen's Avenue) while classes are still in session.

Robson's elementary students are scheduled to move into the new Qayqayt elementary currently under construction at Royal Avenue and Merivale Street in September. The new middle school is scheduled to open in September 2015 and the district determined to make it happen construction has to start in April.

In plans announced Thursday, the district said it will move the existing portable classrooms at Robson to the playing field during the two-week spring break at the end of March. A temporary staff parking area will also be built on part of the play field, which is city owned and will be redeveloped as part of the project.

The field will be closed to community bookings from March 17 until the school opens. A portion of it will be available for school use during recess and lunch until the end of June.

A district press release said an aggressive schedule to get it ready for a September 2015 opening is needed. The new middle school will have students from grades 6 to 8 fed from Connaught, Lord Tweedsmuir, Lord Kelvin and Qayqayt elementaries. The district said it would be too disruptive to transfer students and staff to the school during the school year, so if it wasn't open by September 2015 they would have to wait until September 2016.

The district noted completing the middle school is a consideration in getting approval from the Ministry of Education for the project to replace New Westminster secondary and the start of its construction.

"It will be important to maintain the construction schedule for the new middle school so it opens as scheduled in September 2015," said board chair Jonina Campbell. "I know the community is very anxious to see the new secondary school project proceed. Now that the elementary and middle school projects are well on their way we can focus on the replacement of the secondary school."


View of the new middle school looking up Queen's Avenue



Construction of the new middle school will be done by Yellowridge Design Build, the same company that is building Qayqayt. To protect students and staff a fence will be erected around the construction site with separate entrances to it. Work will also be scheduled to avoid conflicts with school activities including drop-off and pick-up.

The district plans to hold meetings with the school community and neighbours to review the plans and activities.

After rejecting retaining the Robson name for the new school, the board of education has shortlisted the final decision down to two: West Side Middle School or Fraser River Middle School. The district is asking New Westminster residents to submit their preference to by Feb. 21. The board will make its final decision Feb. 25.

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