Crews working on the demolition of the old F.H. Collins High School last year discovered more contamination than expected. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)

Construction of Whitehorse French high school won’t start until 2019: documents

Plans were delayed when contaminated soil was found under the old F.H. Collins site last year

Construction on the new francophone high school in Riverdale won’t start until May 2019 with an expected completion date of November 2020.

That’s according to new details released as part of the Yukon socio-economic assessment process.

The territory’s assessment board began its public consultation period on the project on Jan. 29. Public comments are being accepted until Feb. 12

The school was originally supposed to be completed by the end of 2019. It is being built on the site of the old F.H. Collins High School

Building in Riverdale is what the francophone community has been asking for and it also means the government can take advantage of some of the infrastructure that is already in place, according to the documents filed with the assessment board.

Plans for the French high school were delayed when contaminated soil was found under the old school last year. The mess was caused by a leaking heating system. No one knows how long the old system had been leaking before it was removed.

The excavation of 3,800 cubic metres of contaminated soil was completed last September. The cleanup cost the government $1.8 million.

According to the documents filed with the assessment board Jan. 2, there is still some hydrocarbon contamination in the groundwater. “The physical extend of this contamination is not yet known,” the document said. More monitoring wells are slated to be installed “in the new year,” it says.

Once Environment Yukon knows the extent of the contamination, it will decide what to do next. The contamination could be treated or left to break down.

The plan is to install a hydrocarbon-resistant membrane under the foundation of the new school to protect students and teachers, the document says.

No one from either the departments of education, environment, or highways and public works was able to provide the News with updated information on the public project in time for today’s deadline.

The territory originally earmarked $20 million for the project. The federal government also contributed $7.5 million from its minority language education program.

The school is being built after the French school board sued the territorial government for failing to meet its charter obligations to francophones.

With files from Jackie Hong

Contact Ashley Joannou at ashleyj@yukon-news.com

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