USS principal Carol Sedgwick, centre, and UES principal Jaime Hansen stand with seismic upgrades project manager Nathaniel Crain in the soon-to-be safe drop-off zone at the Secondary School. (Nora O’Malley photo)

Seismic upgrades at Ucluelet Secondary and Elementary School on schedule

"The end result is going to be amazing."

  • Jan. 22, 2021 12:00 a.m.

Seismic upgrades at Ucluelet Secondary School (USS) and Ucluelet Elementary School (UES) are on budget and on schedule, says project manager Nathaniel Crain.

Phase one of the USS project, the woodshop overhaul and multi-purpose room, will be handed over to the school mid-February and phase one of the UES project, a library, staff room and six classrooms, are expected to be complete by mid-March.

“We’re actually able to bring in the original schedule for the funding agreement. Originally, we were going to finish off all the secondary then move on to the elementary, but we were able to do both existing schools concurrently, which means we’ve been able to reduce the schedule,” Crain told the Westerly during a site visit last week.

He expects to see students occupying the new USS building at the third quarter of 2022 (originally it was going to run into 2023) and UES will get their new space come spring 2021.

USS school principal Carol Sedgwick said it’s been great working with the construction team, despite having to move out of her office and into the little ‘sick room’ in the summer.

“Jamie and I sometimes joke that you haven’t been a school administrator and really lived it until you have a pandemic and a construction project going on at the same time,” Sedgwick said with a laugh.

She said the tricky piece has been finding space.

“Every single room is occupied, but the kids and the staff have been super flexible at both sites and really seeing that the end product is worth some discomfort,” Sedgwick notes.

“Unitech and the other contractors and trades people have been super great to work with,” she went on to say.

If disaster were to strike tomorrow, Sedgwick says the gym and the band room are still available and operational for emergencies. What’s more, the band room building was looped into the project as a “community emergency plan bonus” of sorts.

“At some point early on it was thought that that would be a great spot for early year centre, so some daycare and afterschool care. We’ll still have a commercial kitchen in there for our lunch program between the two schools and there will be some classroom space and would also be a good meeting room,” she said.

Additional seismic upgrades to the building include beefing up the footings to the gymnasium and giving it a new floor. Plus, the District of Ucluelet has also purchased a freestanding generator.

“The new schools will withstand an earthquake, 100 per cent,” says Crain, adding that parking considerations will also be looked at.

Upgrades to Ucluelet Elementary and partial replacement of Ucluelet Secondary is funded $44.8 million investment from Government of B.C. Once complete, the project will create over 450 seismically safe student seats in the community, notes a press release from the province. The sections being replaced at USS were built between 1947 and 1981.

“The end result is going to be amazing,” Sedgwick said.

An artist rendering of the upgraded Ucluelet Secondary School from the corner of Peninsula and Matterson. (M3 Architecture Inc. image)

nora.omalley@westerlynews.caLike us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

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