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First concepts revealed for Yukon's new francophone high school

The drawings show a music studio, theatre space, facilities for student radio, a gymnasium, commercial kitchen, art studio and more. But Yukon Minister of Highways and Public Works Richard Mostyn cautions some "impressive bells and whistles" may never be built.

Public Works minister Richard Mostyn cautions some 'impressive bells and whistles' may never be built

Drawings shown yesterday are subject to change said Yukon's Minister of Highways and Public Works Richard Mostyn. 'We're going to have to fit all of those great ideas into a practical building that fits within the budget.' (Claudiane Samson/Radio-Canada)

Yukoners got a first look at some preliminary drawings yesterday, showing a concept of the territory's proposed $20-million francophone high school. 

The drawings depict many facilities: A music studio, multi-use theatre space, facilities for student radio, a gymnasium, commercial kitchen, art studio and space for distance learning.

Drawings also allocate space for a future community centre, which could be added as an extension. 

However, Minister of Highways and Public Works Richard Mostyn is warning that some "impressive bells and whistles" shown on paper may never be built. 

"It is a concept, but it was developed without any [set amount of] money," he said. "Now the money's in place, the budget passed yesterday and we're going to have to fit all of those great ideas into a practical building that fits within the budget."

The Yukon Government has committed $8 million to the project this fiscal year and is projecting to commit $12 million next year. It has also had talks with Heritage Canada about additional federal funding, but approval is still pending. 

Jean-Sebastien Blais, the president of the Commission scolaire francophone du Yukon, says Heritage Canada's contribution may yet affect the design.

Concepts shown Wednesday depict many facilities: A music studio, multi-use theatre space, facilities for student radio, a gymnasium, commercial kitchen, art studio and space for distance learning. (Claudiane Samson / Radio-Canada)

"I believe we will get good news, but there's nothing confirmed. But it's essential to have a partner in Ottawa who understands us and supports us." he said in French.

​One theme of the concept drawings is modernity — and a move away from rigid, square classrooms and rows of desks. 

Tracy-Anne McPhee, Yukon's education minister, says the concept embraces "experiential learning," which she describes as more hands-on and student-led. 

The school would be designed for 200 students, which is many times the current enrolment of Whitehorse's French-language high school program. As of May, the Academie Parhélie had 28 students enrolled.

McPhee says it's appropriate to plan for future growth.

Tracy-Anne McPhee (second from right) says the concept embraces 'experiential learning' which she describes as more hands-on and student led. (Claudiane Samson / Radio-Canada)

One request made during the planning process had been for the school to incorporate a theatre, which could be used by the wider community. McPhee says that is possible.

"All schools have space that are used by many user groups during the year. This would be another one of those," she said.

The new school will be built near other schools and the Robert Campbell bridge, the only bridge to cross the Yukon River in downtown Whitehorse. The territorial government is now working with the City of Whitehorse to address concerns over parking and traffic.

One idea is to allocate space for a future community centre which could be added as an extension. (Claudiane Samson / Radio-Canada)

Facilities could be used by community at large

However, Mostyn says there's still a lot of planning to be done. He didn't estimate when construction would start.

"We're going to make sure this project is properly designed and executed so we are going to take our time to plan this out properly. We know how important this is to the French community," he said.

The concepts give an idea of the overall shape, size and landscaping. They also allocate space for future expansion. (Claudiane Samson / Radio-Canada)

Corrections

  • An earlier version of this story misstated the number of students currently enrolled in Whitehorse's French-language high school program.
    Jun 19, 2017 10:22 AM CT

With files from Claudiane Samson

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