(Andrew Hudson/Haida Gwaii Observer)

New classrooms, gym coming to Chief Matthews in 2019

It’s been a long time coming, but by this time next year Chief Matthews Elementary should start offering Grades 6 and 7.

Duffy Edgars, chief councillor for Old Massett, says plans are underway to add six new classrooms by about Christmas.

The prefabricated, $2.4-million addition will go just north of the existing school and connect using a covered walkway.

“I think it’s going to be good to go to Grade 7, just because of what’s going on with Tahayghen,” said Edgars, referring to the upcoming closure of the K to 7 elementary school in Masset and plans to re-open Gudangaay Tlaats’gaa Naay Secondary as a K to 12 by 2020.

“It’s another opportunity to come to Chief Matthews,” he said.

Edgars had hoped the Chief Matthews addition would be ready this September, but said the project was delayed by a lack of communication between Old Massett, Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada, and ATCO.

“Now we’re all on the same page,’ he said.

Besides an expanded school, by next fall the village should also have a brand-new gym.

Unlike the school addition, Edgars said that project will be funded entirely by Old Massett, with a budget of about $1 million. Basketball players will be pleased to know the gym plans include a wood court.

“We’re going to use it strictly for basketball and all kinds of sports,” said Edgars, speaking in the Old Massett Village Hall, where sports bookings sometimes get bumped by community events.

“This one will be freed up to be a community hall.”

Although the initial idea was to build the new gym between Chief Matthew Elementary and the existing hall, Edgars said there simply isn’t room, so more land will be cleared north of the school.

“Eventually, my goal is to build them a sports field back there too,” he said.

The new classrooms and new gym will both be heated by Old Massett’s relatively new biomass system, Edgars said.

While the gym and addition will be prefabricated by ATCO, Edgars noted that Old Massett is buying its own dump truck and excavator to handle big projects.

“I think it’s important that we have our own,” he said.

“We can employ a lot of our own people and generate a little bit more income for Old Massett, by not having to pay people to come and do it for us.”

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