Final design nearly done for new Sandspit school

Sandspit’s new school is expected to break ground this spring.

Sandspit’s new school is expected to break ground this spring and be finished by next September.

When it re-opens, Agnes L. Mathers Elementary will have brand-new classrooms as well as a new library and health clinic.

The existing gym will stay, but will have a fresh exterior to match the main school building beside it.

Originally scheduled to open this fall, the $3.3-million school replacement was delayed by a couple of surprises, including septic field upgrades and changes in the foundation design.

“We’re really close to having the full drawings,” said Steve Goffic, facilities manager for the Haida Gwaii school district.

Built by Shelter Modular, a company near Abbotsford, B.C., the new school will be shipped to Haida Gwaii in 11 pieces that will be assembled and finished on site. Construction will be managed by Victory Contracting, which also handled construction of the Port Clements Multiplex.

“This is pretty custom,” said Goffic, noting that the district hired architects Craven Huston Powers to customize the school interior and give it a Haida Gwaii look that includes cedar siding.

At about three-quarters the size of the existing school, Goffic said the one is slightly smaller, but with much better facilities and spaces specifically designed for the Strong Start and distributed learning programs.

“Most people were pretty happy with what we put together,” he added, noting that the design looks very close to what Sandspit residents discussed at an open house last year.

Many residents did want a pitched roof rather than a flat one, he said, but that proved too costly, at least for now.

A final design is expected in the coming weeks, with an official groundbreaking tentatively scheduled for early spring.