Kamloops B.C. Liberal candidates Peter Milobar and Todd Stone are promising to fast-track the rebuild of the fire-destroyed Parkcrest elementary if their party returns to power in the Oct. 24 provincial election.
They are also committing $85 million to fund the top three projects on the Kamloops-Thompson school district’s capital priorities list.
On Wednesday (Oct. 21), standing on the vacant lot where Parkcrest elementary once stood, Kamloops-North Thompson candidate Milobar said the NDP government has been lagging on the file, which it committed to fast-tracking 13 months ago when the school burned down.
“We should be standing in front of an active construction zone,” said Stone, the Kamloops-South Thompson candidate.
“We have heard nothing on this through the election campaign … and it is appalling this far in to an election campaign, especially after Mr. Horgan was in town (on Oct. 17) that there was still no commitment to this project proceeding in a fast fashion,” Milobar said.
Milobar said the project has been included in the school district’s capital plan priorities and the NDP government has made mention of it moving through the provincial capital budget process, which, he said, could cause further delays.
“That is wrong and needs to be corrected,” Milobar said. “This needs to remain what it is, an insurance claim, an insurance replacement, and it needs to be truly fast-tracked.”
Milobar said the project needs to move ahead through an insurance claim process so it’s not rebuilt “at the detriment of other capital projects coming forward for the district.”
Kamloops-North Thompson NDP candidate Sadie Hunter told KTW the Parkcrest rebuild has been expedited and students should be in the new building by 2023, but noted insurance claims can take longer than people would like, given paperwork involved.
Hunter and the Ministry of Education have said the project is currently in the planning process.
Hunter said the project is still being pushed through faster than a typical new school build. She said the entire process from concept to new build typically takes five to 10 years, whereas this process will be complete in three.
Hunter said money has already been set aside.
“It’s not stagnating, it’s just these things take time,” she said.
With the promised $85 million, the Liberals pledge to fund the school district’s top two priorities — a new school in Pineview Valley and an elementary school in Batchelor Heights. The third project would be determined by the district.
The school district’s capital plan priorities are included in separate lists based on project definition.
Schools in Batchelor Heights and Pineview Valley are the top two under the new schools list and projected to cost more than $57 million combined, according to the document, leaving another $28 million that could fund a number of school expansions or replacements.
The Liberals are promising to accomplish these and other commitments within the next four-year mandate if elected.
A new school, however, hasn’t been built in Kamloops since the early 2001 — when Pacific Way was constructed — and the Liberals were in power from 2001 to 2017.
Milobar and Stone noted a lack of new builds during that time was due to low enrolment in the district, which in the last five years has been on the rise.