101 Alberta school projects to be delayed
Education Minister David Eggen says 70 per cent of the school projects will be at least a year behind schedule
Education Minister David Eggen says 101 school projects will be delayed, most of them by over a year.
He has also called on the auditor general to investigate the previous PC government's school capital plan, which he described as an abject failure.
"The former government failed to set up realistic construction timelines," Eggen said.
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In Calgary, specifically,10 new schools were promised for the city's booming suburbs in 2014 by then premier Alison Redford who, even at the time, described the undertaking as a "very ambitious infrastructure project."
Opposition critics questioned whether the proposed timeline was feasible, but Redford's successor, Jim Prentice, re-affirmed the commitment in 2015.
Prentice's announcement came in the wake of sliding oil prices and shortly before he called an election in which his Progressive Conservatives were defeated and relegated to third-party status.
Dirks has no comment
Gordon Dirks, who served most recently as education minister in the previous PC government, declined to comment on Eggen's accusation that the PCs had mismanaged the file.
"I'm halfway across the globe, asleep. I picked up the phone because I thought it was an emergency. So, no, I have no comment," he said when reached by phone.
Calgary-Northwest PC MLA Sandra Jansen said Eggen's remarks about the previous government were "interesting."
"It seems like every time an announcement is made, there's a throwback to, 'Well, this is all the PCs' fault and so, going forward, we're going to have to spend more money,'" Jansen said.
"So that's a little bit discouraging."
As for calling on the auditor general, Jansen said that's a "fantastic" idea and she would "absolutely welcome it."
"Throw some sunshine on what's going on and let's get some hard numbers," she said.
The previous government announced 50 new and expanded schools and 70 school modernizations between April 2013 and February 2014.
Then, an additional 56 new and expanded schools and 21 school modernizations were announced between September and December 2014.
Of those 197 projects, 101 will be delayed, according to the current government.
About 20 delays will be a matter of months, while roughly 70 projects will be delayed by a year or more. Estimated completion dates are still being confirmed for some projects.
Completion dates may change again, as the province works with school boards on individual projects.
The Calgary Board of Education released a statement in response to Eggen's announcement, saying it has an "unprecedented 31 capital construction projects underway."
"We are working with construction contractors, as well as the municipal and provincial governments to get these schools built as quickly and efficiently as possible without sacrificing quality," says the statement. "We are collaborating with the province on all of these projects and were aware of the school construction delays that they announced today."
The CBE says it will create contingency plans if school openings are delayed.
List of affected schools
In Calgary, 17 projects — including new builds, school replacements and modernizations — are expected to be delayed. They include:
- Marshall Springs Middle School (New)
- McKenzie Highlands Middle School (New)
- Dr. Martha Cohen Middle School (New)
- Elementary School/Junior High School ‐ Evanston (New)
- CBE Elementary School (K-4) ‐ Aspen Woods (New)
- Francophone School in northwest Calgary (New)
- Middle School ‐ West Springs (New)
- Elementary School ‐ Saddle Ridge (New)
- Middle School ‐ Cranston (New)
- CCSD Elementary School (K-6) ‐ Aspen Woods (New)
- Skyview Ranch K‐9 School (New)
- Silverado K‐9 School (New)
- Southeast Catholic High School (New)
- Christine Meikle School (Replacement)
- Bowness High School (Modernization)
- Calgary Arts Academy (Modernization)
- Foundations for the Future Charter Academy lease from CBE (Modernization)
In Edmonton, a total of 14 projects are to be delayed, including five new builds. Those are:
- Elementary/Junior High ‐ Lewis Farms "Bishop David Motiuk" (New)
- Elementary/Junior High ‐ Summerside "Father Michael Mireau" (New)
- Christ the King Catholic K‐9 in Pilot Sound (New)
- St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic K‐9 (New)
- Michael Phair Junior High School ‐ Webber Greens (New)
- St. Brendan (Replacement)
- Ivor Dent School K‐9 in Greater Lawton Area (Replacement)
- Lillian Osborne School (Addition)
- Archbishop O'Leary High School (Modernization)
- École J.H. Picard School (Modernization)
- Ross Sheppard High School (Modernization)
- Vimy Ridge School (Modernization)
- Alberta School for the Deaf (Modernization)
- Louis St. Laurent Junior/Senior High School (Modernization)
Below is a government document outlining the full list of delayed school projects: