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New Catholic school in Edmonton will cost millions more than first expected: board

WATCH ABOVE: Construction of a new Catholic school in Edmonton has run into a roadblock. As Sarah Komadina reports, it will cost the school board millions more to fix the problem quickly.

Divine Mercy Catholic Elementary School is scheduled to open in Edmonton’s Orchards neighbourhood next September, but it’s going to cost Edmonton Catholic Schools an extra $2.5 million to have it finished on time.

The school is under construction and as it turns out, site conditions don’t meet the original design. There are two to three metres of loose and uneven soil, so changes have to be made to the building’s foundation slab.

“We were made aware by the construction team that they had identified the problem and possible solutions at that point, that was in July,” said David Bouma, the Edmonton Catholic School Board’s (ECSB) assistant superintendent.

The ECSB was given three options, including one that would have delayed the project by a year. There was reluctance from trustees to choose that option so they ultimately voted unanimously to spend the money to keep the school opening on schedule.

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READ MORE: Edmonton Catholic to close 1 school, relocate another after 2019 school year

“Our capital funds are getting smaller and smaller, and there is more of a need for a rainy day fund — now more than ever,” said board trustee Debbie Engel.

“Option one and two aren’t good for kids and we are here to do what’s good for kids.”

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Students who would be attending the new school are currently going to Father Michael Mireau Elementary/Junior High School.

“They are over 900 students and the school is essentially bursting at the seams, so this will alleviate some of the pressure on that school to be able to move those into a [new] building,” board chair Laura Thibert said.

Thibert said she will be talking to the provincial government as the board hopes to get support from Alberta Infrastructure.

“We are hopeful the government will come through,”she said.

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The ECSB’s chief financial officer, James Grattan, said at a board meeting Tuesday that if Alberta Infrastructure covers a large portion of the additional cost, there would be no impact on their capital fund.

Either way, construction on the school will continue with the intent to open in September 2020.

READ MORE: New Alberta school fee rules go into effect Sept. 1; critics fear parents will end up paying more