Location chosen for new F.H. Collins school

Whitehorse could be getting a new rubber running track along with a new F.H. Collins high school.

Whitehorse could be getting a new rubber running track along with a new F.H. Collins high school.

The Education Department is putting the new school on the current upper soccer field and track, minister Scott Kent said on Thursday.

“From a ground condition side of things, through the geotechnical testing the ground was the best there to support it. This also won’t interfere with the existing school during construction,” said Kent.

Using that site means that once construction starts next spring, the school will lose one of its soccer fields and Whitehorse will lose its only outdoor running track.

“That’s the only track in town. That’s something that we were concerned about. We met with representatives from Sport Yukon and we were able to present them with a number of options around town that could accommodate not only the track, but a regulation-sized soccer field,” the minister said.

Kent said the department is looking at alternative sites for a new track and field facility, including putting it at other schools. Since they’ll have to build a new track somewhere, he said they are looking at building a new, modern rubber track.

“We’re costing out some different options for different surfaces. They have a cinder surface now, but we’re also going to cost out a rubberized track as well,” he said.

The department plans to hold an open house in September to further discuss the plans with the school community.

The department did something similar back in November, when it was still considering using its original designs for the new building. That plan involved tearing down parts of the current F.H. Collins facility, starting with the gym, and rebuilding the school while students attended classes in what would essentially be an active construction site.

While Kent and deputy minister Val Royle staunchly defended the plans at the time, once the tender bids came back they were so far over budget that the department decided to can the entire project and find a pre-designed school from Alberta that it could import to Whitehorse.

This new plan will allow Highways and Public Works to build the new school entirely separate from the old one, including a separate entrance way, and won’t disrupt students or staff at all during the school year, Kent said.

Tenders for the new construction job will likely go out in October, with a construction company selected early in 2014, he said. Construction is slated to begin after the 2014 track and field season in June, Kent said.

He doesn’t foresee any increase to the budget for the new building.

“We’re not really going to know what the budget (for construction) will be until we get the bids in, but of the $56-million total budget, we have around $50 million left,” Kent said.

Contact Jesse Winter at jessew@yukon-news.com

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