New Francophone high school could stand at site of old F.H. Collins High

The site of the old F.H. Collins Secondary School is the new proposed location for the future francophone high school in Whitehorse.

The site of the old F.H. Collins Secondary School is the new proposed location for the future francophone high school in Whitehorse.

The Yukon government and the Yukon Francophone School Board’s joint construction sub-committee made the announcement in a news release yesterday afternoon.

For the past year, the proposed site for the school had been the Second Haven Skatepark in Riverdale.

Marc Champagne, executive director of the French school board, said the new site has advantages over the old one, namely size.

“The skate park site is too small and it would have added significant costs to build there,” he said.

“It would have meant building a higher and more irregular-shaped building. The biggest advantage of the other site is its size, meaning it’ll be shovel-ready a lot sooner than the skate park site could have been.”

Sewage pipes underneath the skate park site would have likely made construction there more complicated, too.

Last summer city officials said a new building there would have to share land with a main sewer pipe and potentially smelly sewer equipment.

Champagne said the skate park site ultimately doesn’t meet the needs of the school board.

“Yes, the skate board site is more beautiful and has spectacular views next to the river, but there were just too many cons,” Champagne said. “At that point (last May) we had limited information about the size of the school and what we wanted.”

Last October he presented conceptual plans of what a new school could potentially look like at the board’s annual general meeting.

It would include classrooms, a library, a theatre space for over 200 people and offices for Association franco-yukonnaise staff. The theatre would be available to all Yukoners.

In January, the Yukon government and French school board announced they had awarded a functional planning contract to Thibodeau Architecture and Design, a firm that has offices in Vancouver, Montreal and Whitehorse.

That contract includes developing space and site requirements, such as the number of classrooms in the school and the size of the gym. It also includes establishing a preliminary construction schedule and budget for the building.

A traffic impact study will be conducted for the new proposed site, according to the news release.

The planning of a francophone high school in Whitehorse has been in the works since 2007.

As it stands, space is running out for high school students at Academie Parhelie at L’ecole Emilie-Tremblay. The Grade 9-10 and 11-12 classes have been using portable classrooms for over a year.

No timeline has been set for the construction of the school, but a construction committee has indicated it would like to see it completed by the fall of 2018, in time for the start of that school year.

The old F.H. Collins school will be torn down this summer. At one point last year, the French school board told parents it was considering the old school as a temporary location for its students, but that idea was dismissed in August.

Contact Myles Dolphin at

myles@yukon-news.com

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