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The path is clear for construction of new Port Moody elementary school, but could it use more pizzazz?

To meet targets to reduce greenhouse gases, the school will have solar panels on the roof, as well as an enhanced envelope and heat pumps
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A rendering of the new Moody Elementary School that is to be built on the site of the former Moody Middle School.

Construction on a new Moody Elementary School is expected to begin early next year.

But Port Moody councillors who approved a development permit July 26 so the project can proceed are still hopeful School District 43 can find a way to jazz the building up.

The $37.2-million school will replace the current Moody Elementary that is located a few blocks away.

It is to be constructed on the site of the former Moody Middle school, which was replaced in 2018 with a new structure next door.

Coun. Steve Milani said given the school’s prominent location along St. Johns Street, he would have liked to have seen it with more architectural pizzazz.

“This is situated on a prominent corner of the city,” he said. “Being a City of the Arts, the design of the building is lacklustre.”

Coun. Zoe Royer suggested the school might present an opportunity to showcase a new mural.

“I don’t think it’s too late for some exterior enhancements,” she said.

Coun. Diana Dilworth agreed, saying the city could work with the school district and First Nations to come up with something to advance reconciliation efforts.

But Mayor Rob Vagramov said he likes the school’s bright exterior colours and large windows.

“I remember my high school was just a jail, all concrete with tiny windows,” he said. “Making it look pretty is not the point of the school.”

The new school will feature 16 classrooms and a gymnasium, as well as multipurpose, learning commons and administration spaces, along with 46 childcare spaces. There’s also a plan to erect solar panels on the roof of the two-storey structure.

“The project has been required to meet higher GHG (greenhouse gas) reduction targets through the ministry’s GHG reduction strategy,” said the project’s architects, Justin Dyck of Station One Architects, in their letter of intent.

In addition to the solar panels, the building will also have an enhanced envelope and heat pumps.

The school’s capacity of 415 students from kindergarten to Grade 5 is 145 more than the current Moody Elementary can hold to accommodate anticipated growth in the downtown neighbourhood.

And, if needed in the future, portables could be placed on a hard surface play area adjacent to St. Johns Street, according to a report presented to council.

Most of the new school’s construction costs are being funded with $32.2 million from the provincial government; the remaining $5 million is being provided by the school district from its $16.2-million sale of the former Lincoln Elementary School in Port Coquitlam.

If construction proceeds on schedule, the new school is expected to be ready for students by September 2024.

with files from Diane Strandberg