SEISMIC UPGRADE CONTROVERSY REACHES A HAPPY ENDING
In the Spring of 2018, a public controversy raged over the future of the present Vic High building and options regarding its much-needed seismic upgrade. After a great deal of work by the School District, BC’s Ministry of Education, and the Alumni Association, this controversy was resolved with an announcement on June 27, 2019:
Click here for the press release from the Ministry of Education.
Click here for the Association’s response, given by longtime Board member Ian McKinnon (VHS 1966).
Click here for the story in the Times Colonist (June 27, 2019).
Click here for an interview – B.C.’s minister of education, Rob Fleming joined Ryan Price on CFAX to talk about the provincial government approving $77.1 million for a seismic upgrade and expansion for Victoria High School (June 27, 2019).
A year of planning is anticipated, followed at least a year of construction. While the Grant Street building is being renovated, Vic High students and programs will be housed at the newly renovated S.J. Willis Education Centre.
REVIEW OF 2018 CONTROVERSY
The seismic upgrade of Vic High had been on the horizon for several years when the School District, in March 2018, advised the Alumni Association that renovations were coming soon. The first response from the Association was given in a Message from the Chair, which was posted that month (see bottom of this page). In due course the Association presented a follow-up response presented to the School Board’s Operations Committee:
May 14, 2018 A Future for Vic High. Alumni Association presentation
There was much public discussion in the intervening two months, and for two months afterward. In the end, the controversy demonstrated how much Vic High is valued by the community it serves, and the School Board chose to retain this iconic face of the Fernwood community.
June 26, 2018 School board backs $73M option to save Vic High exterior. TC article
Below are some other articles and letters that were part of this discussion:
July 7, 2018 Comment: Vic High decision shows stewardship. TC letter
May 29, 2018 Latest options don’t include demolishing Vic High. TC article
May 15, 2018 School board leaning toward renovating, rather than demolishing Vic High
May 10, 2018 It’s back to school board after fate of Vic High sparks flurry of feedback
May 1, 2018 How about a little respect for historic Vic High? FaceBook
April 28, 2018 Vic High is in excellent shape TC letter
April 27, 2018 Vic High doesn’t need replacing TC letter
April 27, 2018 There’s a way TC letter
April 26, 2018 Chicken Littles want seismic upgrades TC letter
April 7, 2018 Hundreds attend open house on Vic High TC article
April 6, 2018 Open houses will explore Vic High’s Future TC article
April 1, 2018 Vic High debate needs a sensible fourth option – Stan Bartlett TC article
March 25, 2018 VHS an essential part of our heritage TC letter
A MESSAGE FROM OUR CHAIR (18 March 2018)
On 15 March 2018, the Greater Victoria School District announced that it is considering three very different options for seismic upgrading of Vic High. Whichever option is chosen will have major effects on the school. At the same time as this announcement went public, two representatives of the Alumni Association — Ian McKinnon (Vice Chair) and Roger Skillings (Past Chair) — were meeting with Piet Langstraat, Superintendent for the District. The Association is pleased to have been invited to the table concurrent with the School District’s announcement to the media.
Two documents included in the District’s announcement are posted here: click here to view the Long Term Facilities Plan and click here to read School Specific Information. For more general information you can click here to read the CBC News article posted the same day. We’ve also posted a news report and an editorial from the Times Colonist under Press Clippings (see Navigation panel at right).
Through our representatives, we were informed that the District would soon be initiating a consultation process regarding these options. Respecting the many diverse opinions that our members will have, the Association does not have sufficient lead time or an ability to form a consensus position to advocate on behalf of all Alumni. For these reasons we encourage interested Alumni to participate directly in the consultation process. There are open houses scheduled in the Vic High gym on Saturday April 7, 9 am to 12 noon, and Wednesday April 18, 5 to 7 pm. The District indicated that an online survey will be available in April for those who do not live in Victoria or who cannot attend either of the open houses. We will alert Alumni via email when the survey is available.
From their meeting with the District, our representatives are confident that the District is sincere in its commitment to meaningful consultation with all stakeholders. Your Association wants the final decision to be made in a way that respects and honours the important heritage of Vic High while ensuring that the best opportunities are afforded to students today and into the future. Your active participation will be important to achieving the best outcome. Remember your Vic High motto: No reward without effort!
Ken Gower, Chair
Vic High Alumni Association