Groundbreaking ceremony well attended

  • Oct. 17, 2007 11:00 a.m.

By Alex RinfretPort Clements residents of all ages, from babies to seniors, turned out Sunday afternoon for a ceremony to mark the start of construction on the community’s new multipurpose centre and elementary school. They were joined by school trustees, village officials and residents of neighbouring communities, who all wanted to congratulate Port on the groundbreaking of this unique building, possibly the first in BC to combine a school with municipal offices. “There’s a lot of gratitude that needs to be expressed here today,” said Dennis Reindl, chair of the volunteer committee which worked for years to secure funding for the project. “It’s exciting to finally see this day here.” Mr. Reindl said the inclusion of classrooms in the new building will ensure Port continues to have an elementary school. There had been serious concern about the future of the school, which has seen enrollment decline in recent years. The architects and project manager, introduced by Mr. Reindl, received a round of applause from the 70 or so people who attended the ceremony in the school gym, as did school district secretary-treasurer Ken Campbell. Mr. Reindl singled out Mr. Campbell for special thanks, saying his efforts were essential to the project’s success. Port mayor Cory Delves said the new centre will reduce the village’s environmental footprint, by replacing three fuel-gobbling old buildings (the school, village office and community hall) with one energy-efficient building. The move will save money for both the village and the school district, he said, adding that the community hall now costs taxpayers up to $30,000 a year to heat, light and clean. Mr. Delves thanked the funders who are contributing to the $4.2-million building: the Gwaii Trust, the Canada-BC infrastructure program, the Ministry of Education, the local school district, Weyerhaeuser, and the Port recreation commission. One of the most rewarding moments as mayor, he said, came when he travelled to Victoria last fall to lobby Education Minister Shirley Bond on the merits of the project. Ms Bond ended up an enthusiastic supporter, and Mr. Delves said he expects that she’ll be coming to Port for the grand opening. Ms Bond sent a letter to the community to be read at the groundbreaking ceremony, saying it is an exciting moment for Port and that the facility will enrich the lives of young and old. School board chair Wayne Wilson said Port is setting a great example for other communities about what can be accomplished through cooperation. “We are very excited to be a part of this,” he said. “We’ve heard it said many times around the province that a school should be the heart of the community.” The multipurpose complex will include three classrooms, a Vancouver Island Regional Library branch, a playschool room, a seniors’ room, a kitchen, and the municipal office and council chamber. The existing school gym will be renovated for school and community use.