Kitchen help needed for NLC

Work continues on Qayqayt elementary, slated to open in September. - GRANT GRANGER/NEWSLEADER FILE
Work continues on Qayqayt elementary, slated to open in September.

The new Qayqayt elementary will have a bonus space courtesy of the provincial government.

But the kindness comes with a catch.

The New Westminster school district has to go looking for money to outfit it. Not only that, the district can’t use any funds already targeted for education. So the district is doing something it’s not used to. It’s seeking $136,000 in donations or in-kind services to make their vision a reality.

A Neighbourhood Learning Centre (NLC) was included in the plans for the school at Agnes and Merivale streets, slated to open in September. The province included the space for the NLC in its capital funding. But that’s all it’s paying for. Much of the space is already accounted for.

The Purpose Society and the Westminster Children’s After School Society will provide child care.

The NLC will also have multi-purpose rooms, offices and a kitchen to rent out.

But they need furniture, appliances and more, which the province isn’t funding. The biggest cost is for the commercial kitchen. To make the food hub possible, Fraser Health requires an $85,000 commercial-grade HVAC system and $5,000 industrial countertops.

“It’s been roughed in but there wasn’t money within the budget in the school to do that,” said district community program director Betina Ali. “It will be quite interesting because we’ll have quite a food hub there once we have it functioning in a committed kitchen.”

The district would like to be able to install the upgrades before construction is completed. But that window is narrowing. Ali said ideally it would be done by the end of the month.

It’s New Westminster’s first NLC so trying to locate money for it is a new concept to the district. District staff is seeking large-scale grants but they’re also soliciting donations.

“They’ve worked very hard to have a solid business case and they spent a considerable amount of time to make sure it has enough funds to keep it afloat,” said board chair Jonina Campbell. “They only way they can put that in [is to ask for donations].”

Donations can be made at with tax receipts for donations of more than $25.

The Fraser River Middle School and the New Westminster secondary replacement will also have NLCs. Work has begun on the new middle school at the John Robson elementary site. The official groundbreaking takes place May 15, at 3:30 p.m.

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