VBE to Construct New Downtown Elementary School

Board & Committees, Schools & Students

 

 

Media Release

VBE to Construct New Downtown Elementary School

Vancouver – (May 29, 2015) – The Vancouver Board of Education (VBE) is pleased to announce that it has awarded a contract for the construction of a new elementary school at International Village (located at the corner of Abbott Street and Expo Boulevard).

As a result of a tendering process, ITC Construction Group was selected and awarded a contract to build the new four-storey school with capacity for 510 students.

The new school is urgently required due to the increase in the number of school-aged students in the downtown core. The unprecedented pace of development and population increase in the downtown peninsula in recent years has created significant enrolment strain on existing schools in the area.

“Creating sustainable capacity solutions in safe schools across the city and ensuring children have the choice to attend a local school in their neighbourhood are top priorities for the Vancouver Board of Education,” said Christopher Richardson, VBE Chairperson. “I am very pleased to announce that the Board, through some creative and unique solutions, can now move ahead with the construction of this much needed school. This new state-of-the art facility will support the needs of families in the downtown peninsula and provide our students with a safe, comfortable and modern learning environment.”

A pre-tender construction estimate in November 2014 anticipated that the project would be on budget. However, all of the construction bids received in March 2015 were over budget due to a variety of factors, including the rapidly rising US dollar, which has had a significant impact on construction costs. This resulted in a total project budget shortfall of $1.8 million.  

The Board approached the Ministry of Education with a plan and a request for the Province to jointly fund the $1.8 million in additional costs. Unfortunately, the Province indicated that it is unable to support the proposed plan for additional funding at this time.

Given the urgent need to proceed with this priority capital project, the VBE has chosen to fully fund the additional costs by targeting minor savings in the project scope and by borrowing $1.6 million. The borrowed funds would be repaid from the VBE’s operating fund over a 15-year period.

The Vancouver Board of Education will continue to advocate for additional provincial funding for this critical project.

Construction is scheduled to begin imminently and the new school is targeted to open in early 2017.

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Background information for this project can be viewed below.

For more information, please contact:

VBE Media Relations

communications@vsb.bc.ca

 

BACKGROUND
New Elementary School at International Village 

Need For New Schools in Downtown Vancouver

At least one new Vancouver Board of Education (VBE) elementary school in the downtown core is required due to the large increase in elementary school-aged children in the area.

The unprecedented pace of development and population increase in the downtown peninsula has created significant enrolment strain on existing schools in the area. There are currently wait lists to attend Elsie Roy Elementary School and all other downtown schools are at or over capacity. 

As well, the north end of False Creek is one of the largest areas in the downtown peninsula slated for significant development. In 2009, Vancouver City Council approved land use policies to create a vibrant and mixed-use waterfront district.

The soon-to-be constructed elementary school at International Village will be integrated into an existing mixed-use residential development at the corner of Abbott Street and Expo Boulevard. This is permitted under the site’s existing zoning and was anticipated when the International Village area was re-zoned. The school will serve the downtown core and Northeast False Creek areas.

Key Features of New Elementary School at International Village

The school will be designed as a four-storey building. As part of this project, the VBE will work with the City of Vancouver to incorporate community accessible spaces within the school. Highlights of the new school include:

  • floor area of nearly 48,000 ft2 (4,464 m2);
  • spaces for 60 full-day kindergarten students (three classrooms);
  • spaces for 450 Grade 1-7 students (18 classrooms);
  • before and after school care program for up to 60 children;
  • community use spaces within the school (ground-level gymnasium and multi-purpose rooms) accessible after school hours; and,
  • building design that will meet a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) GOLD standard.

 

Financial & Budget Timeline

In 2012, the BC Ministry of Education approved $13.5 million in funding for the new school. In February 2014, the project budget was increased by $3.56 million to account for a variety of factors, such as price escalation, a redesign to resolve privacy concerns from the neighbouring condominium tower property owners, the addition of a fourth storey in order to increase capacity, increased foundation work and costs related to upgrading the parkade below the school. The VBE fully funded these additional costs via the Local Capital Reserve (pushing it into deficit) and Restricted Capital Reserve.

Tenders to construct the school were received in March 2015. The lowest bid* was $1.4 million more than the projected budget. In addition, soft and other costs (e.g. architect fees, legal fees, municipal permits and taxes) are projected to be $0.4 million higher than the budget, for a total variance of $1.8 million.

(*Note: The lowest bid is, however, in line with recent bids received for other VBE capital projects.)

Funding Options

Historically, the BC Ministry of Education funds all new capital projects. The Project Agreement states that “if there are unforeseen circumstances that are beyond the control of the Board, the Board may make a written request to the Ministry for additional capital funding to be used for the purposes of the Capital Project”.

As the Board wished to avoid a reduction in the project scope, it approached the Province with a plan to jointly fund the $1.8 million in additional costs. Unfortunately, the Province indicated that it is unable to support the proposed plan for additional funding and that it expected the VBE to either reduce the project scope to align with the approved budget or fund the additional costs itself.

The VBE has chosen to keep the project scope intact for this priority project to meet existing and future local enrolment needs. The District has decided to award the tender to proceed with construction of the school and fully fund the additional costs itself through the following means:

  • $0.2 million funded from project saving measures; and,
  • borrowing the remaining $1.6 million and repaying it over the next 15 years through the VBE’s operating fund.

 

More Information: