‘Cautiously optimistic’ is how the Bayside Middle School Parent Advisory Council (PAC) President described her feelings about the possibility of a new roof for the school.
Sandra Arthur helped lead a public push, complete with a 500-name petition, to seek a replacement of the leaky roof. She and other parents, along with Saanich North and the Island MLA Gary Holman went to the B.C. legislature at the end of February, demanding that the roof — which has been leaking for more than 20 years — be replaced.
Following that visit, and various media reports about the situation, Education Minister Mike Bernier met with staff at School District 63 (Saanich) and followed that up with a visit to the Central Saanich school on Thursday, March 3. In a prepared statement, Bernier said he was “100 per cent committed” to helping fix the problem.
“The province is going to make sure that we protect the staff, students and the facility by repairing the roof,” Bernier stated.
Arthur said that after comments the minister made to the media, it will be pretty hard to step back from them.
“This is good news,” she said. “The minister told us this was a unique situation. He supports this, but gave no answer on the money.”
The school district has estimated a new roof at Bayside would cost $2.6 million. According to Arthur, the school district is consulting with engineers and planners to design a new roof and get a firm price.
“The district has $1 million from the sale of McTavish Road School and repair money that had already been set aside for Bayside’s roof,” she said. “The district would only need the ministry to come up with $1.6 million, if that early estimate holds out.”
Arthur said the PAC is optimistic at this point and expects a report on the price of a full roof replacement in about two weeks.
She credited the action taken by the district and the government to date, on the parents’ campaign and petition.
“I don’t think someone will just put themselves in a position of committing funds for this … and to backtrack,” she said.
In his statement, Bernier said the ministry is working with School District 63 and once the province receives the district’s cost estimate, “we will move ahead.”