Brentwood Bay school to have leaky roof replaced

Province ponies up $6.1 million of $7.1 million roof replacement project.

Education Minister Mike Bernier and Bayside Middle School Principal Wendy MacDonald are joined by students during the announcement of a $7.1 million roof replacement project.

After 20 years of leaks, buckets and repairs, Bayside Middle School in Brentwood Bay is finally getting a new roof.

B.C. Education Minister Mike Bernier announced on Monday the province is contributing $6.1 million to the replacement project. Added to a $1 million commitment from School District 63 (Saanich), that brings the work to a total of $7.1 million.

Bernier said that the district’s investigation into the extent of the leak damage revealed a far larger problem than anticipated. That meant the entire roof would have to be replaced.

“We knew there were issues, we knew there was leaking taking place within the roof,” Bernier said. “(The issues were) quite a bit larger than we thought.”

Bernier visited Bayside on March 3 this year and stated at the time he was “100 per cent committed” to helping fix the problem — an issue that District staff said had existed since the school was opened in 1992. The minister was asked why coming up with a solution — and the funding — took so long.

He said schools and their districts do a good job in trying to handle issues on their own and that Bayside and the Saanich school district had been doing that. Bernier said when the problem became too large about a year ago, district staff met with the province.

He added the tipping point for him came when he toured the school to see the leaks for himself.

Dr. Keven Elder, District 63 superintendent, told the PNR in February this year that they had been applying for grants to help fix the leaks on at least two occasions — in 2005 and again in 2007 — after engineering reports at that time told them the roof needed replacing. The money was not forthcoming, he stated at the time,  because the ministry’s priorities had shifted to paying for seismic upgrades.

The combination of a student suffering a  concussion after slipping on water from a leak last November, and parent pressure this year, has been credited with speaking action by the province. Sandra Arthur, chair of the Bayside Parents Advisory Committee (PAC) said it was this advocacy that brought the issue to the media’s attention, making sure the government could not ignore it.

“It’s gone on too far, for 20 years,” Arthur said, adding when the province did come through, it’s pledge of $6.1 million was “amazing news.”

“It exceeds our expectations,” she said Monday. “I was optimistic the minister would do something, but I’m shocked at the final price.”

The $7.1 million price tag, said Bernier, will not only replace the entire school roof, but its insulation, skylights, eavestroughs and more. The work, he said, will start this summer with the roof areas over the gym, foyer and library and hopefully be complete by this winter. Phase two — replacing the roof over the main entry and the east, south and west portions of Bayside — will start in the spring of 2017 and be finished by summer, depending on weather.

“It’s not just replacing the roof,” Bernier said, “but everything that’s required to not only ensure there’s a roof, but a good quality educational system behind us to ensure that’s going to help us for years to come.”

Bayside Principal Wendy MacDonald said she credited the parents and community partners with pushing for the new roof and thanked the District and province for their contributions. She noted that getting to this point took a lot of patience and gratitude.

“We acknowledge our parents, our families and our district personnel,” she said. It takes a lot of organization, a lot of trust in relationships to come to a point where we can, with our students, celebrate this wonderful announcement.”

“For all the teachers and the children … it’s good news,” added Arthur. “And also for the wider Brentwood Bay community. It puts us on the same playing field as other schools with dry sports facilities and hallways.”