After two years of discussions with the Ministry of Education on how to handle the growing number of students in Fernie, six months of design with Stantec Architecture, and thanks to the support of the City of Fernie’s Planning Department, the first phase of the École Isabelle Dickens Elementary School expansion is about to happen.
Contractors have been hired to handle the relocation of the existing ten portable classrooms during the summer break. The portables will be aligned in two rows of five along 2nd Avenue. They will all benefit from a ramp and a platform to facilitate access to the classrooms and be linked to the school’s main building by a paved pathway. Gateways will be created in the existing fence for more direct pedestrian access from 2nd Avenue.
Now that the school year is over, the work for the relocation of the portables can start and will continue until the end of August 2021. Access to the school fields and playgrounds will be limited during this period. Construction activities will include the disassembly of the portables, craning and trucking of the modules on school property, and site excavation. Several short road closures on 2nd Avenue and 13th Street are to be expected with detours to ensure vehicle access.
EIDES is expecting an increase of 45 students this September. To accommodate the 540 kids, School District 5 is working on moving the Strong Start Program, currently running in one of the portables, to the Learning Centre located at the north end of 2nd Avenue to free up an additional classroom.
The first phase of the project will make room for a 1 040 sq.m. (11 200 sq.ft.) extension and a bus loop. The addition will include four classrooms, a multipurpose room, space to accommodate smaller group learning, an expansion of the library and two offices. The design for this second phase is well underway and construction is expected to start before the end of the year to ensure that students and staff can enjoy it in September 2022.
The extension and the ten portable classrooms will allow some extra breathing room at EIDES while SD5 and the Ministry of Education discuss the funding of a new middle school in Fernie.