On Tuesday, February 23rd, just as the Germany-Canada hockey game wrapped up a win for Team Canada, an eager crowd packed every available seat in the Oak Bay High School cafeteria to begin a forum on the new Oak Bay High School project. An impressive line up of panelists took the next two hours to inform, engage, and listen to the community members who attended.

The panelists included: Nils Jensen, Oak Bay Councillor; Michael McEvoy, School District Trustee; Lorna Curtis, Director of Oak Bay Recreation; Dave Thomson, Oak Bay High Principal; Garrett Brisdon Vice-Principal; Jody Watson, CRD; Ian Graeme, Bowker Creek Initiative; Rod Windjack, Project Architect; Jim Soles, School District Building Project Manager; and Sally Murphy, Oak Bay High School Choir Teacher.

We had a special presentation by Architect John Graham, an Oak Bay High School Alumnus. He presented a perspective on the site plan that really opened up our minds to the exciting opportunities in front of us, while making us aware that we could easily miss those opportunities, if but for the lack of funding.

John Graham's Vision of Oak Bay High Site Plan crop

But the beautiful thing is that it appears that this project is in the right place and the right time. A new Ministry of Education initiative called the Neighbourhoods of Learning is underway, and can provide additional funding of up to 15% of the total project cost for community services. In our case, with an estimate of $52 million, we could ask for up to $8 million to build our community performing arts theatre, child care spaces, a teen centre, a community kitchen, community access to the school in the off-hours, and much more!

Here’s the overview of what the Revelstoke community decided on for their new school, and what their process was leading up to those important decisions.

All that’s required for the Neighbourhood Learning Centre model to be applied to the new Oak Bay High School is community participation, input, and desire for these facilities to exist within and alongside our new school building.

So, Oak Bay? Are you in?

The Community Association of Oak Bay hosted the meeting last Tuesday to fulfill our general mandate of Communicate, Collaborate, Connect, and I think we accomplished that, but we’ve still got plenty of work ahead.

We are meeting with Councillors Jensen and Cassidy to figure out how to get started on our Neighbourhood Learning Centre vision, so that it can be submitted with the plans for the new school. We will certainly keep you up to date on any developments on this project here on the caob.ca.

If you would like to participate in the Community’s bid for a Neighbourhood Learning Centre, then please contact us at oakbayconnector@gmail.com or through the comments on this post.