SCHOOLS – New Parkcrest elementary school will give us a reason to celebrate

Parkcrest elementary after fire. (Image: Mel Rothenburger)

Minister of Education

WHEN PARKCREST ELEMENTARY in Kamloops was destroyed in a fire in the fall of 2019, students and families were left heartbroken, and many people in the community who had attended Parkcrest felt the loss of years of memories.

Jennifer Whiteside.

Just as students and staff were adjusting to temporarily learning in a new building, the COVID-19 pandemic struck, creating even more challenges. As Minister of Education, I applaud the work that teachers and staff have done to engage, support and guide students through an unexpectedly challenging year. And I applaud the students and parents of Parkcrest who have shown incredible resiliency and community spirit.

Schools are at the centre of our neighbourhoods and our communities. In addition to helping our kids learn and prepare for their future, schools are also places for families to gather, connect with their neighbours, participate in sports and cultural extracurricular activities and strengthen community ties.

Last week, I was pleased to announce that a new, expanded Parkcrest Elementary is on the way for the Brocklehurst community. Construction is set to begin in summer 2022, and the school is expected to be open in September, 2024.

The new school will be designed with the community in mind. It will have space for 120 additional students – for a total of 510 seats – to accommodate the growth in the surrounding area and projected future enrolment.

Thanks to an investment from the City of Kamloops, the school will include a full-size gymnasium and changerooms that will be available for local groups and sports leagues to book after school hours.

And the new building will also have a neighbourhood learning centre for community events and learning opportunities. The new school will be a bright, modern space where wonderful new memories will be made.

We all want our kids to have everything they need to succeed. Investing in schools like Parkcrest and the addition at Valleyview Secondary are part of our government’s commitment to giving students the best start possible.

Over the past three years, we’ve invested more than $2 billion in new schools, expansions and seismic safety upgrades, and we’ve built more than 141 new playgrounds. And we are going to keep investing in our kids to give them the opportunities they deserve.

The adage that “it takes a village to raise a child” is proven true in the amazing work done in our local schools. Teachers, educational assistants and staff play a vital role in our kids’ learning, growth and physical and mental well-being. And parents and families find support and friendship by connecting with each other at drop-off, pick-up, sports practice and concerts.

The Parkcrest community has been through a lot and I know that there is still much more work to be done before the new school is complete.

When the doors are opened on the new Parkcrest Elementary, the entire community will have a big reason to celebrate, and a beautiful new space in which to learn, play and grow.

Jennifer Whiteside was elected MLA for New Westminster in 2020 and is the Minister of Education.

About Mel Rothenburger (8971 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

8 Comments on SCHOOLS – New Parkcrest elementary school will give us a reason to celebrate

  1. I am super sure this disaster and the follow-up project to rebuild this school was the only matter this otherwise very bad government had to deal with as of late…I just can’t help but to use a little sarcasm. Please people get over your petty narrowness. Please!

    • I do worry about appearing to be tone-deaf to the current situation. Calling Covid a ‘game-changer’ does not come close to reality. The fact is, this District was in crisis long before Covid hit and the MOE continued to ignore us and base Capital project decisions on Politics. + I don’t consider this a “very bad government”, in fact, I think they and the School Board have done some good things. Unfortunately in this area, it has been a complete failure.

      • RE: Valleyview secondary expansion project. Any thoughts on that Chris?

      • Chris Ponti // February 8, 2021 at 10:47 PM //

        Pierre, The data I have only goes back to 2005 where Valleyview was at 117% capacity. It dropped a bit before starting an increase in 2007 which really ramped up after 2010. I would say it has been needed for more than 15 years but, and you can probably tell, I have strong feelings on this 🙂 Unfortunately, this strong growth looks like it will continue. Based on the projected numbers, I predict Valleyview will need portables again 2 years after the completion of the expansion.

      • Chris Ponti // February 7, 2021 at 7:52 PM //

        Pierre, the Valleyview expansion will be fantastic but is long overdue. In fact, in 2018 when we thought we would be next up the MOE announced a big expansion to Royal Bay Secondary which was at 135% capacity while Valleyview was at 140%? We could not figure out why until we realized the Sooke School District is part of the Premier’s riding. While the numbers show our District’s need is higher, in the first three years as Premier that District received $187 Million in Capital Project Funding. FYI these projects also seem to get ‘fast-tracked’ as their expansion is already complete and they will have finished building two new schools before construction on Parkcrest even begins. Of course, this is nothing new, all Premiers and past governments have done similar things so we should not be surprised. We do need to make some ‘noise’ and ensure they know our students matter almost as much as the Premier’s.

      • Thanks for the reply Chris. One more question. How long as it been since Valleyview has been in need of an upgrade?

  2. The wait to replace is unconscionable from a government that claims to care. Any decent government would have called for enrollment plans, demographic predictions and a sense of decency, and put it out to tender within six months. Maybe the delay was punishment for electing liberals…….petty.

  3. I am not sure how to feel about this?!?
    Part of me is so happy for Parkcrest but I can’t help but be disappointed in the timeline. During the election, they promised it would be built by 2022 and now construction is not going to start until 2022! What happened? Why the change? I want to stay positive as any move in the right direction is a good thing right? This disheartening feeling of another in a long line of letdowns from the MOE and our School Board just has too strong a hold on me to allow a total celebration of what is truly fabulous news.

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