School District 43 is about to take possession of a steeply-sloped piece of property for the long-awaited Burke Mountain secondary school.
But much work lies ahead before a school will rise on the 5.75-hectare property between Coast Meridian and Soball Street in Coquitlam's fast-growing northeast, school officials say.
Tuesday, the SD43 board of education was informed that paperwork is being finalized to transfer the property from the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources to the Ministry of Education.
The value of the property isn't being released and the land swap is merely a journal entry in the province's books, said secretary treasurer Rick Humphreys, but the deal is progress for the school even though it will cost the district $35,000 in legal costs.
"This has been many years in the making," Humphreys told trustees.
The district must now build a business case for the school based on current and predicted enrolment for the community, slated to house more than 26,000 people, and once that is approved, a report is needed to determine the scope and cost of the project.
Some preliminary work has been done to make sure a school, parking and playing fields would fit on the site but more details need to be worked out with the city of Coquitlam, which is a partner in the project and owns a swath of land immediately adjacent to the school district portion.
Frank Giampa, the district's assistant secretary-treasurer for facilities and planning services, said much time has elapsed since the project was first discussed with the city and the district needs to make sure Coquitlam is still interested.
"We haven't had this discussion, we need to review it with the city as to what this thing will be," Giampa said.
What is known is that the new building would have to be built to LEED (Leadership in Environmental Design) Gold standards to include the latest environmental practices, and projections are for 1,200 students, although that could change.
It's likely the property will be terraced, with exits onto Soball Street, not David Avenue to the north, and playing fields would be located at the bottom of the property. But little design work has been done on the project, which has been on hold for more than five years while a complex land deal had to be worked out.
"This is good, this has been awhile, it's nice to get going," Giampa said, adding that the next priority for the area is an elementary school.
Savings from seismic repairs to Miller Park elementary school are being passed on to build a larger replacement school for James Park elementary in Port Coquitlam.
More money is needed, the School District 43 board of education was told Tuesday, to build a school large enough to house full-day and pre-kindergarten classes as well as a neighbourhood of learning centre (a hub for health and child services) and a Strong Start pre-school program.
The new James Park elementary, now under construction at 1761 Westminster Ave. in Port Coquitlam, will now cost $16 million, instead of the $13 million originally planned. About $3 million was saved in repairs to Coquitlam's Miller Park because of lower construction costs, the board was told.