Whitehorse Daily Star

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ANOTHER SCHOOL FOR RIVERDALE – The territory’s first francophone secondary school will be built where the former F.H. Collins Secondary School once stood. Map courtesy YESAB Inset Tracey-Anne McPhee

Francophone school construction to start in 2019

Construction of the Yukon’s first francophone high school is scheduled to start in May 2019 at the former F.H. Collins Secondary School site.

By Taylor Blewett on January 30, 2018

Construction of the Yukon’s first francophone high school is scheduled to start in May 2019 at the former F.H. Collins Secondary School site.

The new school will be completed by November 2020.

The project was posted for public comment Monday by the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board (YESAB).

“The building will utilize existing underground infrastructure work that was completed for the old F.H. Collins school design and other efficiencies such as a fibre optic cable network, phone, television and bell systems which can be accessed from the current F.H. Collins building,” the YESAB public notice reads.

The neighbouring schools – the new F.H. Collins Secondary and Selkirk Elementary – will remain open during construction.

Safe walkway corridors and traffic control in the area will be maintained as necessary.

Last November, the Department of Education put the project’s capital budget at $20 million.

A departmental spokesperson could not confirm before this afternoon’s press deadline whether that number has changed.

The francophone high school project emerged out of a 2009 lawsuit by the Commission scolaire francophone du Yukon (CSFY) against the territorial government, “for failing to meet its obligations under s.23 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms,” the project proposal states.

Section 23 of the Charter protects minority language education rights.

“Alternatives to constructing a new school were not considered due to the context.

“The current school, École Émilie-Tremblay, does not have sufficient capacity to address the increasing enrolment.”

Last November, Marc Champagne, the CSFY’s executive director, told the Star the projected occupancy of the new school is 200 students.

Its Riverdale site was selected by the CSFY in 2016.

“After an extensive review of the possible site options, the new Government of Yukon agreed this site was the most viable location,” the proposal reads.

“It offers significant savings in projected construction costs for required site work, and the new school would be able to use existing infrastructure.”

The project hit a snag last summer during the demolition of the old F.H. Collins school, which had opened in 1963.

A leaky oil tank had contaminated the site. The unexpected discovery and subsequent remediation pushed back initial construction timelines.

Prior to the setback, Education Minister Tracy-Anne McPhee had slated the school for completion by the end of 2019.

After excavating, removing and/or treating thousands of cubic metres of soil and groundwater, the site remediation wrapped up last fall.

Subsequent monitoring determined there remains some hydrocarbon contamination in the site’s groundwater, according to a Jan. 2 document attached to the YESAB project.

“The physical extent of this contamination is not yet known,” it reads.

Once that’s determined, Environment Yukon’s Site Assessment and Remediation Unit will figure out how to manage the contamination. It could be treated, or it could be left to break down on its own.

“In order to ensure we mitigate any potential risk to students, teachers or other occupants of the buildings from hydrocarbon vapours, we will install a hydrocarbon-resistant geomembrane under the foundation system of the building.”

The YESAB deadline for public comment on the project is Feb. 12.

Champagne, the CFSY executive director, was not available for comment today.

Comments (14)

Up 0 Down 0

Juniper Jackson on Feb 5, 2018 at 9:16 pm

The continuing care facility at Whistle Bend is empty.. that is epic poor planning.. one reason the pharmacist didn't get re elected..what's it costing us to sit empty? $50,000 a week? (no staff..no housing for them if there were staff) I do not know.. just asking.. for 100 students, couldn't that building have been used for a school? Even if not.. Pierre is right.. government had no problem forcing seniors to go out there (not that it will ever be open) the government could have sent the French out there..

Up 4 Down 0

Yukon Watchdog on Feb 4, 2018 at 9:14 am

Now that the City has taken back Robert Service Campground...this would be the perfect opportunity to re-use that land (or a portion of it) to build an access from the South Access to a new bridge built for vehicle traffic (right beside the blue pedestrian bridge on the Millennium Trail). This route would avoid all those schools, would avoid the traffic circle by Super A which really bogs down traffic with the crosswalk and feeds from almost all of Riverdale while providing a second access in and out of Riverdale.

I also stand by my last comment that all those schools should be accessed by a dedicated lane into the school zone that should be contained inside a fenced area so as to remove the school zones on Lewes Blvd.

It's time for a new bridge, CoW, and you now have the land to do it. It makes better sense than another bridge beside the R Campbell Bridge as it would likely remove half the traffic from the current route.

Up 1 Down 0

Bil on Feb 2, 2018 at 6:23 pm

Good planning YTG and COW. When there is a major natural occurrence a lot of Riverdale residents are not going to be able to vacate the area. Thanks for the good planning.

Up 1 Down 1

Nikita Koloff on Feb 2, 2018 at 12:40 pm

hahaha. People riding their bikes. That is less likely to happen then the city making a smart planning decision. BUILD A 2Nd BRIDGE. PUT MORE LANES FOR TRAFFIC FLOW. TAKE DOWN THE EYESORE BUILT OUT OF BIKE TIRES/RIMS.

Up 5 Down 0

Winter on Feb 2, 2018 at 10:37 am

We don't need another school in Riverdale! The traffic is already really bad in the mornings - so yes, let's add to that pile eh. Can people be anymore stupid?

Up 6 Down 0

BnR on Feb 2, 2018 at 6:58 am

Simon, while its all well and good to recommend that more people bike (or other) commute, the Riverdale traffic is NOT the issue. No school, no traffic issues. Even if your 20% ( where did you get that number?) used alternate commuting methods, there would still be an issue with the remaining 80% having to deal with school traffic. And you're dreaming if you are hoping that 20% would bike or walk to work. It would be a real achievement of you could get 2-3%.

Up 0 Down 8

Simon on Feb 1, 2018 at 3:38 pm

If 20% of people who live in Riverdale simply rode their bikes to/from work throughout the year - I bet there's a lot of Riverdale-based commuters who have jobs downtown or near downtown - think about how much congestion that would relieve and not to mention, how many health (both physical and mental) benefits would be gained.

Problem is, commuting by bike is perceived as "hard" and yes, in some cases it is. Most people could probably do it if they actually got out of their comfy cars and tried. The difficult part is breaking your car commute habit.

Up 5 Down 1

Shawn on Feb 1, 2018 at 3:26 pm

A better plan:
1: Re-build a proper sized FH Collins on the old site
2: Move FH Collins to the above new High School
3: Francophone High School takes over the new "Elementry" school that is currently being used as a High School

Up 11 Down 3

jc on Jan 30, 2018 at 9:16 pm

Goodness sakes, another French school. Soon, French will be above English on all signage in Yukon. And maybe someday it will be called Quebukon.

Up 9 Down 1

Pierre on Jan 30, 2018 at 9:00 pm

School should have been built in Whistle Bend, Riverdale is a gong show now. Not sure why the government just didn't tell les francaphones that it had to go in W.B.

Up 8 Down 0

Nikita Kiloff on Jan 30, 2018 at 5:54 pm

Riverdale traffic is already a disaster. They had a trial run with buses in bike lanes. It worked well they say except there was far less traffic due to exams being written.
When will this city do something right as far as proper planning goes. The solution to the traffic problem is simple. Build a 2nd bridge, make more roads and make more lanes for traffic. Carpooling is not the answer as people won’t do it. Do it right city, but they won’t. They’ll continue to keep things the same until that horrible day when the bridge is closed and people are trapped in Riverdale.

Up 11 Down 1

Thomas Brewer on Jan 30, 2018 at 4:45 pm

What a joke, $20m budgeted (and you know this will rise!) for a school with less than 100 kids in it.

School #6 in Riverdale - this is disastrous planning.

Up 11 Down 1

Riverdale Resident on Jan 30, 2018 at 4:39 pm

Projected student numbers of 200, or hoped for? Love to see where the dragged this number from.
Anyway, there you have it. Suck it up everyone, LAFY gets their way again.
Thanks Tracey and Nils for really standing up for your constituents....

Up 10 Down 0

Hugh Mungus on Jan 30, 2018 at 3:39 pm

This should really improve the traffic situation in Riverdale. Maybe COW can put in some 'construction' lanes.

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