The sun was shining on the Royal City Friday as shovels plunged into the ground signifying the start of construction of the long-awaited New Westminster Secondary School replacement project.
Construction of the new high school is expected to be complete by September 2020.
“This is an exciting new chapter for one of B.C.’s largest and oldest secondary schools, and I can’t wait to see students thriving in a safe, new, state-of-the-art facility,” said Education Minister Rob Fleming.
New Westminster board of education chair Mark Gifford applauded district staff, parents and fellow trustees for all the hard work that made the “huge milestone” possible.
“Today’s ground-breaking is a major step toward the realization of our vision of New Westminster schools as a place where students love to learn,” he said.
A smudging ceremony, led by New Westminster Secondary School Aboriginal youth worker Lee Laufer of the Kaska Dene Nation, was held before the ground breaking to purify the site in anticipation of the new school.
The gathered dignitaries also took a moment to recognize the achievements that have come out of the existing school. New Westminster Secondary School was originally built as two separate schools: Vincent Massey Junior High School, which opened in 1949, and Lester Pearson Senior High School, which opened in 1954.
Once complete, the new secondary school, which will be located on the former site of the Mercer skatepark behind the existing school, will house 1,900 students. Site preparation has been underway for several months. Construction is expected to begin right away.