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B.C.’s oldest public high school welcomes students after 4 years of renos

Opened as a log cabin in 1876, Victoria High is the oldest public high school in western Canada
Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Rob Fleming, left, presented Victoria High School principal Aaron Parker with a flag in celebration of the reopening of the 109-year-old building on Wednesday, April 10. (Bailey Seymour/News Staff)

Local politicians and education representatives gathered to celebrate the reopening of the historical Victoria High School after the school was closed for four years due to renovations and seismic upgrades.

On Monday, April 8, students once again flooded the halls of the 109-year-old building after four years of upgrades that created space for 200 new students, a new library and new learning commons.

“I’m just so impressed by this building. And we all know that this is one of the oldest schools in British Columbia, and one that the community wanted to ensure was kept,” Education Minister Rachna Singh said. “I understand how important it is for parents to be able to send their kids to safe, modern schools that are close to home, and that’s why we are here today.”

The province provided $97 million to complete the upgrades, with the Greater Victoria School District providing an additional $3 million.

The school also will have a new neighbourhood learning centre that will be open in 2025, and will include new child-care spaces with $1.3 million provided by the ChildCareBC New Spaces Fund.

The building was expected to reopen in September but, according to Victoria-Swan Lake MLA Rob Fleming, the project began during the COVID-19 pandemic so there was “a lot of difficulty managing construction projects.”

“I think there was always an awareness and a contingency built into the construction budget, to manage unforeseen engineering challenges,” Fleming said. “You get into a 110-year-old building, and you actually get behind walls to look at the foundations of this building, and find out what their strength is, you can only do that once the project starts, so what I would say is that the project was managed really well under very difficult circumstances,” said Fleming.

The school, which is the oldest public high school in western Canada, first opened as a log cabin in 1876 with an enrollment of 36 students.

“While we hoped to honour Victoria High School as a very special place it is with the long rich heritage that is unique on the West Coast and in Canada. We also wanted to make sure that students would enjoy a revitalized space that supports a modern learning environment, and the many diverse interests and aspirations of our students,” said Nicole Duncan, chair of the Greater Victoria School Board.

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Bailey Seymour

About the Author: Bailey Seymour

After graduating from SAIT and stint with the Calgary Herald, I ended up at the Nanaimo News Bulletin/Ladysmith Chronicle in March 2023
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