Unspecified delays have pushed back the opening of the replacement for the Grande Prairie Composite High School for at least another year.
“We were hoping we’d have been in the ground by now, but we are expecting it’s pushed back by a year to September 2021,” says Grande Prairie Public School District Superintendent Sandy McDonald.
The new replacement school was announced as part of the $500 million education budget in 2017, but McDonald says he can’t pinpoint the reason for the delays.
“I think it was a combination of different events; the election, planning, but I couldn’t tell you exactly what slowed the process down.”
One hurdle that was quickly cleared was what to do with the land needed to keep the school located in the community of Avondale. The site for the replacement is made up of three parcels of vacant land, two of which are owned by the school district and the third by Alberta Infrastructure. The third parcel was only put in place after the city agreed to swap ownership with the province for a piece of land in the Royal Oaks neighbourhood.
McDonald says the Avondale area redevelopment plan recently introduced by city staff is something he believes the two organizations have been working together on since day one.
“When the announcement was made that the government would be providing a replacement school for the Comp, our board of trustees and administration reached out to the City of Grande Prairie and said, ‘hey, this is happening. What opportunities might there be to work together to redevelop or repurpose this parcel of land in a way that might be mutually beneficial?'”
McDonald explains that while no work can be done on the old school until the new one is done, the fate of the Comp has already been determined.
“We went through the process and the board has decided it makes the most sense to demolish the existing school.”
McDonald believes the project has just gone out to tender via Alberta Education and Infrastructure. The cost of the project has yet to be announced publicly.