Construction is underway on two new schools in Winnipeg’s Waverley West community, the province announced Tuesday at a groundbreaking ceremony.
Education Minister Cliff Cullen said the schools — an elementary school and a high school — are part of an ongoing, co-operative project with the Pembina Trails School Division, the City of Winnipeg and other stakeholders to create a 21-acre community campus for the neighbourhood.
“Today’s announcement provides the growing community of Waverley West safe educational spaces for their students,” said Cullen.
The elementary school is expected to be completed by December of next year, the minister said, and will have a capacity of 800 students in an 81,400-square-foot facility.
The high school — a three-storey building that will hold 1,200 students — is scheduled for completion in June 2023.
“Excitement and anticipation for the two new schools in Bison Run has been building for some time in Pembina Trails School Division,” said Kathleen McMillan, chair of the school division’s board of trustees.
“This official sod-turning event is a true celebration for us. We eagerly await welcoming students into these new learning spaces.”
Pembina Trails School Division superintendent Ted Fransen calls it an exciting day, but said there’s still plenty of work that needs to be done.
“There is no doubt we need even more schools,” Fransen said.
“Waverley West will be the size of Brandon when it’s done, and we will have four K-8 schools and one high school … we will not have nearly the number of schools, but they’ll be larger than some of the schools in Brandon.”
Fransen says the province has already committed to an additional two schools in the area: one in Prairie Pointe and another in Bridgewater Lakes.
Elsewhere, parent Sandra-Dee Beer says members of her community have been urging the government to build more schools in Sage Creek since before their only school even opened.
“So it has divided up a lot of things,” Beer said.
“I’ve got three children; two are Windsor Park Collegiate, (and) one at Ecole Sage Creek School. That means three different start times, three different modes of transportation to get them to school, and it’s tricky.”
Ecole Sage Creek school exceeded its 600 student capacity within five months of opening back in 2017.
The situation for parents was complicated further when a year later, it was decided Grades 7 and 8 would be sent elsewhere to make room for younger students, and then sometime later, English students in Grades 5 and 6 would also have to go to other schools.
“It’s not just this area, it has affected every area. Because if we can’t be accommodated here, the students have to go somewhere … Island Lakes, Shamrock, into Windsor Park Collegiate, Collège Béliveau, all those things,” Beer said, adding the local parent advisory council has been documenting the ongoing saga on its website.
Cullen says the Waverley West schools are the latest in the government’s plan to build 20 new schools, six of which are already open.
The government provided the following breakdown of the 20 new school plan:
- Pine Ridge (Winkler) K-8 – Garden Valley School Division
- Niverville 9-12 – Hanover School Division
- Maryland Park (Brandon) K-8 – Brandon School Division
- Ecole Templeton K-5 – Seven Oaks School Division
- Waterford Springs K-8 – Winnipeg School Division
- East Elmwood / Concordia K-8 – Franco-Manitoban School Division (DSFM) (currently open with limited capacity)
- Waverley West K-8 – Pembina Trails School Division
- Waverley West 9-12 – Pembina Trails School Division
- Morden K-8 – Western School Division
- King Edward 9-12 – Winnipeg School Division
- Sage Creek K-8 – Franco-Manitoban School Division (DSFM)
- Steinbach K-4 – Hanover School Division
- Sage Creek K-8 – Louis Riel School Division
- Precinct F K-8 – Seven Oaks School Division
- West St. Paul K-8 – Seven Oaks School Division
- Precinct G K-8 – Seven Oaks School Division
- Prairie Point K-8 – Pembina Trails School Division
- Bridgewater K-8 – Pembina Trails School Division
- Brandon K-12 – Franco-Manitoban School Division (DSFM)
- Brandon K-8 – Brandon School Division
No timeline was provided for the remaining 12 schools.