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Coronavirus: Alberta fast-tracks new school builds, creates jobs amid economic turmoil

The location in southwest Edmonton's Windermere-Keswick area where a K-9 school will built. April 14, 2020. Wes Rosa, Global News

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact Alberta’s economy, the provincial government is looking to get Albertans to work by accelerating the timeline of five new schools builds.

On Tuesday, the government announced the $100-million project will move forward this summer, creating 560 “well-paying” construction jobs for Albertans.

READ MORE: Jason Kenney predicts unemployment in Alberta could rise to 25% amid COVID-19

“We thought the one way of getting people back to work and to stabilize the economy is through infrastructure at this critical time,” Infrastructure Minister Prasad Panda said in an interview with 770 CHQR.

On April 9, Premier Jason Kenney announced a $2-billion investment in the province’s capital plan to help create jobs in response to the economic struggles caused by the pandemic.

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Part of that funding has been allocated to the expedited school builds which will be located in Edmonton, Calgary, Cochrane and Legal. The five schools will be:

  • K-4 public school in Calgary’s Auburn Bay area
  • K-9 Catholic school in Cochrane
  • K-9 Francophone school in Legal
  • K-9 Catholic school in southwest Edmonton’s Windermere-Keswick area
  • K-9 public school in southwest Edmonton’s Windermere-Keswick area
An empty lot sits in Auburn Bay area, April 14. Kevin Billo / Global News

READ MORE: 4 Edmonton schools among 25 projects to be built or funded across Alberta

The request for proposals process is set to begin in late April, with construction scheduled for September. Panda said on this new timeline, the schools should be open by 2022.

“There could still be some challenges with supply chain and reduced workforce if the COVID-19 situation continues,” he said.

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“But it usually takes 18 months to two years to build these schools, so they should be done in less than two years.”

The new schools were first approved by the provincial government in 2019, and up until Tuesday, construction and completion dates for the institutions were still to be determined.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Canada lost 1 million jobs in March

In a statement on Tuesday, Education Minister Adriana LaGrange, said the province’s investment in capital spending projects like this one will be beneficial to both students and working Albertans.

“Accelerating these five new school projects is an important part of Alberta’s plan to stimulate our economy,” LaGrange said.

“These new schools will provide our children with modern places to learn that will lay the foundation for their futures, while also getting Albertans back to work.”

LISTEN: Alberta fast-tracks five new school builds amid COVID-19 pandemic 

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