Last November, the Ministry of Education announced $1.7 million of funding for renovations to Maple Drive Junior School so more than 400 grade 8 and 9 students could be transferred to the school by March 2018.
Structural issues at Quesnel Junior School had forced the closure of the facility.
At the time, Education Minister Rob Fleming said ministry staff would continue to work closely with the Quesnel School District (QSD) on a long-term solution. Local education partners were delighted by the safety move and Fleming’s assurance of a long-term solution.
At the council meeting following the announcement, Quesnel Mayor Bob Simpson said the ministry must build a new junior school.
In a Jan. 25 letter to Fleming, the mayor reiterated the need for QSD and the ministry to develop a full business case for a new junior school.
Simpson noted Quesnel has been waiting years (15) for a new school.
“The permanent solution our community desperately needs is a new junior school, and it is our sincere hope you will announce the funding for this school in your upcoming three-year capital plan.”
Simpson told the minister Quesnel’s forest economy has been hit hard by both the Mountain Pine Beetle epidemic and last summer’s wildfires, and the annual allowable cut is being dramatically reduced.
He added the City is working with the Province, industry, and community partners to develop strategies and initiatives to diversify the economy and to reinvent the traditional forest sector, so it can continue to support the local economy and jobs.
Council is taking steps to attract and retain visitors, residents, and investment, he wrote, adding council has restructured the City’s finances to maintain core infrastructure and programs and to invest in new amenities that are attractive to younger workers and families.
“Our award-winning physician recruitment program has attracted a significant number of new doctors and health-care professionals, putting us in the enviable position of having enough family doctors to support our residents’ health care needs.”
He told Minister Fleming an investment in a new junior school in Quesnel would be another sign of the Province’s confidence in our community’s future.