Community fears for FH Collins

FH Collins Secondary School teacher Chris McNeill doesn’t want the school moved. He made that clear during a public meeting Wednesday, called…

FH Collins Secondary School teacher Chris McNeill doesn’t want the school moved.

He made that clear during a public meeting Wednesday, called to discuss the school’s future.

Options for the aging school include rebuilding, refurbishing or relocating it.

“I really feel that FH should stay in Riverdale because it serves the community of Riverdale and there are an awful lot of young people who make their way through Grey Mountain Primary and Selkirk and they come to school at FH, so it’s really a vibrant part of the community,” said McNeill.

“It allows a fair percentage of students to walk to school each day, which is fantastic,” he said.

“The school uses a lot of the local facilities on a regular basis.”

The gym classes make use of the Millennium Trail and the ski trails, and the building is close to the hospital.

“But mostly it’s just a real sense of community and it’s nice to see the kids grow up in the neighbourhood.”

Many in the room believed a new high school might be built in Copper Ridge.

But there are no plans to rebuild FH on the Falcon Drive property set aside for a new school in that subdivision, said Dave Sloan, director of learning for area two.

However, this contradicts what Hold Fast Consultants — a private Victoria, BC-based company — says it has been hired by the Yukon government to do.

In November, Hold Fast was handed a $69,000 contract to study the high school issue.

“We are here to collect information from the community concerning the possible refurbishment or rebuilding of FH Collins, and get their input on whether it would be on site here or whether they’d be amenable to moving it somewhere else — basically just get the community feedback,” said Bruce McAskill of Hold Fast.

This is why the group at the meeting was so concerned that FH Collins was going to be moved to Copper Ridge.

“I think that having a high school in the heart of the community is an important thing and this is the traditional start of Whitehorse — on this side of the river,” said Wendy Boothroyd of FH Collins school council.

“It’s a beautiful place to have a school near the river,”  Boothroyd said.

“Kids have been coming to FH Collins from the community for decades.

“We have our residence for kids from the communities right beside FH Collins, we have a teen parent centre here, we have the best ‘shop’ in the city here … to me those are all compelling reasons to keep the school here.”

The Riverdale location currently allows students to walk to school or to after-school jobs downtown.

There is a political commitment to build a school in Copper Ridge; however, Sloan was under the impression that it was going to be an elementary school.

There isn’t enough room on the designated land for a high school the size of FH Collins, he said at the meeting.

Should FH Collins be moved there, it would lose its famous technical wing and room for many other extracurricular activities.

This concerned most of the 60 people who had gathered at FH Collins and who believed that their school was being moved to Copper Ridge.

“Obviously we’re looking at replacement of a high school, period,” said Sloan.

“So I think that to build two schools would probably be cost prohibitive.

“The government’s commitment is for a school in Copper Ridge. Our assumption is that was probably going to be an elementary school.

“The only reason I think the thought of a high school emerged is that there are probably some residents in the Copper Ridge area who would like to see a high school there.”

At this point, Sloan contradicted himself by saying, “overall we’re looking at what can be done with the future of FH Collins and locale may be another question in there.”

Members of the public have expressed a number of other concerns.

These include what to do with the kids while FH Collins is being refurbished?

Why is an Outside group preparing the report for the Education department?

Why build another high school if enrollment figures are dropping?

What will be the life expectancy of a refurbished building versus a new building?

Would the school lose it’s designated technical wing?

And if the school is moved to Copper Ridge, all the Riverdale students will have to be bused.

The school was built in 1963 and passed its life expectancy by about three years. It would cost $30 million to rebuild FH Collins and $15 million to refurbish.

At the meeting, Sloan tried to quell the fears of the crowd by saying that the meeting was just the first of several, which will include talking with a variety of stakeholders, school councils and Whitehorse officials.

A rebuilt school would be high quality, he added.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Wyatt’s World

Wyatt’s World for March 5, 2021.

City councillor Samson Hartland in Whitehorse on Dec. 3, 2018. Hartland has announced his plans to run for mayor in the Oct. 21 municipal election. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Councillor sets sights on mayor’s chair

Hartland declares election plans

Premier Sandy Silver speaks to media after delivering the budget in the legislature in Whitehorse on March 4. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Territorial budget predicts deficit of $12.7 million, reduced pandemic spending in 2021-2022

If recovery goes well, the territory could end up with a very small surplus.

Dawson City RCMP are reporting a break and enter on Feb. 25 after two masked men entered a residence, assaulted a man inside with a weapon and departed. (Black Press file)
Two men arrested after Dawson City home invasion

Dawson City RCMP are reporting a break and enter on Feb. 25.… Continue reading

Highways and Public Works Minister Richard Mostyn speaks to reporters at a news conference in Whitehorse on Dec. 21, 2017. New ATIPP laws are coming into effect April 1. (Chris Windeyer/Yukon News file)
New access to information laws will take effect April 1

“Our government remains committed to government openness and accountability.”

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley receives his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine from Public Health Nurse Angie Bartelen at the Yukon Convention Centre Clinic in Whitehorse on March 3. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
State of emergency extended for another 90 days

“Now we’re in a situation where we see the finish line.”

Team Yukon athletes wave flags at the 2012 Arctic Winter Games opening ceremony in Whitehorse. The 2022 event in Wood Buffalo, Alta., has been postponed indefinitely. (Justin Kennedy/Yukon News file)
2022 Arctic Winter Games postponed indefinitely

Wood Buffalo, Alta., Host Society committed to rescheduling at a later date

Crews work to clear the South Klondike Highway after an avalanche earlier this week. (Submitted)
South Klondike Highway remains closed due to avalanches

Yukon Avalanche Association recommending backcountry recreators remain vigilant

RCMP Online Crime Reporting website in Whitehorse on March 5. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Whitehorse RCMP launch online crime reporting

Both a website and Whitehorse RCMP app are now available

A man walks passed the polling place sign at city hall in Whitehorse on Oct. 18, 2018. The City of Whitehorse is preparing for a pandemic-era election this October with a number of measures proposed to address COVID-19 restrictions. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
City gets set for Oct. 21 municipal election

Elections procedures bylaw comes forward

A rendering of the Normandy Manor seniors housing facility. (Photo courtesy KBC Developments)
Work on seniors housing project moves forward

Funding announced for Normandy Manor

Tom Ullyett, pictured, is the first Yukoner to receive the Louis St-Laurent Award of Excellence from the Canadian Bar Association for his work as a community builder and mentor in the territory. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)
Tom Ullyett wins lifetime achievement award from the Canadian Bar Association

Ullyett has worked in the Yukon’s justice ecosystem for 36 years as a public sector lawyer and mentor

The Blood Ties outreach van will now run seven nights a week, thanks to a boost in government funding. Logan Godin, coordinator, and Jesse Whelen, harm reduction counsellor, are seen here on May 12, 2020. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Blood Ties outreach van running seven nights a week with funding boost

The Yukon government is ramping up overdose response, considering safe supply plan

Most Read