An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
I HATE TO RAIN on anyone’s parade, but I’m not quite as excited about the Parkcrest elementary announcement as everyone else.
Certainly, the sooner a new school gets built the better, but the hoopla this week over the schedule for completion was a bit over the top. It really amounts to nothing more than an update about normal progress on a major project.
And this project wasn’t supposed to be normal. After the school burned down in September of 2019, then Education Minister Rob Fleming assured everyone that not only would a new school be built but that it would be built quickly.
It would be rebuilt, he said, on an express timeline. The term “expedited” was used. It wouldn’t have to get in line behind other major projects.
Normally, said Fleming, a new school takes three to five years to build but he hoped and expected this one would be done sooner.
Well, this week’s announcement said work is expected to begin on the new Parkcrest in the summer of 2022 and that doors will open in the spring of 2024.
That’s almost five years since the fire. In other words, nothing was really expedited at all. Parkcrest is on the high end of a normal timeline for such projects.
And, by the way, then-superintendent Alison Sidow guestimated in 2019 it would cost up to $20 million. This week’s estimate is $35 million.
The City is kicking in $2.5 million for a larger gym so the school can be used for community activities but that doesn’t explain the big difference between the original ballpark estimate and today’s firmer number.
True, the new school will accommodate more students.
Overall, though, the reassuring talk about Parkcrest being rebuilt at warp speed has turned out to be… just talk. Which means displaced students and teachers will be without a school of their own for years longer than they were promised in the fire’s aftermath.
Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and a retired newspaper editor. He is a regular contributor to CFJC, publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.