Planning work is set to begin on Whitehorse's first francophone high school, after the school board and the territorial government awarded a design contract.  

Thibodeau Architecture and Design, which has offices in Whitehorse as well as Vancouver and Montreal, won the contract to complete functional planning.

"This is an important step in our joint work supporting French first language students in the Yukon," Education Minister Doug Graham said in a statement.

Marc Champagne, executive director of the Commission scolaire francophone du Yukon, said the school board wants the new high school to include facilities for the entire community.

"A flexible auditorium that could be used for theatre for cinema, adult education, the possibility of a community radio station, music facilities, recording space possibly," Champagne said. "But these things need to be explored and defined."

Marc Champagne

'We are very excited to take this next step,' said Champagne. (Claudiane Samson/Radio-Canada)

Champagne said building a community-focused facility would allow the board to access federal funds that wouldn't otherwise be available.

Part of the planning process now underway will include consultations with the public, starting next month. The functional planning work is expected to be completed by the end of March.

The school board does not have a site yet for the school, but it has indicated its preferred spot — next to the new F.H. Collins school in Whitehorse's Riverdale neighbourhood, where there's currently a skate park.

Negotiations between the school board and the Yukon government are ongoing.