School division nearly back home

Education: Foothills may share new building with Province in the future

By: Bruce Campbell

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Apr 02, 2014 06:00 am

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Foothills School Division is slowly but surely heading home.

The division administration will be back at its office in High River by April 11.

The building closed when the June 20 flood ripped through the High River downtown core.

The move may only be temporary because a new-shared facility with the provincial government in the future is still a possibility.

“The plan is it is a temporary solution until we can get into a joint facility with the government of Alberta,” said Drew Chipman, the division’s assistant superintendent, corporate service. “A provincial task force has approved up to $20 million towards a joint facility… We have been given some assurances it will proceed and we will continue to work with them.”

Chipman did not know how much the division would have to pay.

The division owns the land and the building. The value was estimated at $1.1 million five years ago, which could be used to help pay the shared facility.

Administration staff has been working out of the former Okotoks RCMP detachment. Its technical department is at Okotoks Junior High School, where it will remain for the time being.

The division, Province, MD of Foothills and Town of High River signed a letter last September to begin exploring the possibility of a shared facility. All four government arms had offices affected by the flood.

High River Mayor Craig Snodgrass said it has declined the option because the price tag is too high.

“Our share of that building would be about $6 million,” Snodgrass said. “Council just feels we have just way too many unknown costs coming at us. We don’t have a lot of borrowing capacity left, we want to keep that money just in case there is something that we absolutely have to do, rather than pour that $6 million into something we kind of need, but isn’t urgent right now… There is just too much going on in town right now.”

The Town of High River and the MD of Foothills have shared a municipal building on Macleod Trail since 2003. The building, just a block away from the school division office, was severely damaged by the flood. The Town plans to have most of its staff back in the office on April 7.

MD of Foothills Reeve Larry Spilak said after looking at the options it was felt best to stay at the shared office on Macleod.

“We’re staying where we are,” Spilak said. MD staff were back in the office on March 31 after working out of Mullen Trucking near Aldersyde the past six months.

Alberta Infrastructure spokeswoman Roxanne Nanuan confirmed the partnership for a joint facility is down to two — the school division and the province.

“It has only been a recent decision,” Nanuan said. “There are no plans for the building, there is no architect — it’s just been a decision at this point.”

The provincial government building, which is almost across the street from the MD-Town of High River office, was home to Fish and Wildlife as well as Child and Family Services. Fish and Wildlife is now at 710 Centre St. in High River. Child and Family Services is located across the street at 701 Centre St.


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